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Prices and Wages by Decade: Up through 1779

Links to government documents and primary sources listing retail prices for products and services, as well as wages for common occupations.

Wages in the American colonies up to 1779

WAGES in CONNECTICUT

Note: Due to variation in currency values among colonies, Connecticut wage data for the occupations shown below may not be easily comparable to other places. Recommended reading: Colonial Currency in History of Wages in the United States from Colonial Times to 1928.

WAGES in MASSACHUSETTS

Note: Due to variation in currency values among colonies, Massachusetts wage data for the occupations shown below may not be easily comparable to other places. Recommended reading: Colonial Currency in History of Wages in the United States from Colonial Times to 1928.

WAGES in MARYLAND

Note: Due to variation in currency values among colonies, Maryland wage data for the occupations shown below may not be easily comparable to other places. Recommended reading: Colonial Currency in History of Wages in the United States from Colonial Times to 1928.

WAGES in NEW HAMPSHIRE

Note: Due to variation in currency values among colonies, New Hampshire wage data for the occupations shown below may not be easily comparable to other places. New Hampshire's colonial currencies could be complex. See Benjamin Chase's explanation of early money in the introduction to his book History of old Chester [N.H.] from 1719 to 1869.

WAGES in PENNSYLVANIA

Note: Due to variation in currency values among colonies, Pennsylvania wage data for the occupations shown below may not be easily comparable to other places. Recommended reading: Colonial Currency in History of Wages in the United States from Colonial Times to 1928.

  • Prisoner of war wages and compensation, 1770s
    Tells wages paid to prisoners of the Continental Army (usually Hessians). There was at the time high demand for skilled weavers, tailors, shoemakers, stocking-makers, millers, bakers, butchers, carpenters, joiners, smiths, and plasterers. Source: History of Prisoner of War Utilization by the United States Army, 1776-1945, p. 16.

WAGES in RHODE ISLAND

Note: Due to variation in currency values among colonies, Rhode Island wage data for the occupations shown below may not be easily comparable to other places. Recommended reading: Colonial Currency in History of Wages in the United States from Colonial Times to 1928.

WAGES in SOUTH CAROLINA

Note: Due to variation in currency values among colonies, South Carolina wage data for the occupations shown below may not be easily comparable to other places. Recommended reading: Colonial Currency in History of Wages in the United States from Colonial Times to 1928.

WAGES in VIRGINIA

Note: Due to variation in currency values among colonies, Virginia wage data for the occupations shown below may not be easily comparable to other places. Recommended reading: Colonial Currency in History of Wages in the United States from Colonial Times to 1928.

  • Early American building-trades wages
    • 1600s (17th century), pp. 5-7.
    • 1700s (18th century), pp. 7-11.
    • 1800s (19th century), pp. 12-15.
      Source: BLS Monthly labor review, Jan 1930.

Wages in England up through 1779

Price and wage analysis, 1700s

Prices in the American colonies, up through 1779

PRICES for HOUSING and LAND, up through 1779

PRICE of BUILDING MATERIALS

See food prices below.

Prices of items for FARM and HOME, up through 1779

PRICES for OCEAN PASSAGE, up through 1779

PRICES for OVERLAND TRAVEL, up through 1779

PRICES for CLOTHING and SHOES, up through 1779

PRICES for SERVICES, up through 1779

PRICES for HEALTH CARE, up through 1779

PRICES for TOBACCO, up through 1779

Food prices in the American colonies up to 1779

  • Food prices in Massachusetts, 1700s
    Source: Comparative wages, prices, and cost of living (from the Sixteenth Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, for 1885), by Carroll D. Wright.  Shows both retail and wholesale prices.
  • Beer price in Massachusetts, 1667 and 1670
    "Beer of the best quality sold at one and half pence per quart" in 1667 according to One Hundred Years of Brewing, p.141, column 1. This is corroborated by a government report which quotes a 1670 law indicating: "when malt is under 4 [shillings] per bushel then to sell [beer] no less than one quarte for 1½ pence" (source).
  • Food prices in Connecticut, 1770s
    A farm family's account book shows a wide variety of items that were purchased, along with prices. Source: "Farm prices in two centuries," Report of the Statistician, USDA, p. 337.
  • Food prices in Philadelphia, 1779
    In 1779, Philadelphia set price ceilings on certain foods, wine, rum, tea, spices and other goods such as candles and soap. Similar information is repeated in an alternate source.
  • Food expenses reported at Valley Forge PA, 1777-1778
    Shows prices paid at George Washington's headquarters for beer, cider, rum, tea, geese, turkeys, fowls, rabbits, pigeons, chickens, duck, ham, lamb, roasting pigs, venison, fish, eggs, apples, butter, strawberries, potatoes, sugar, sprouts, parsnips, cabbage, carrots, and more. Source: Washington's headquarters, Valley Forge National Historical Park, 1989. Appendix VIII (pp. 223-242) shows full expense accounts.
  • Food prices in Rhode Island, 1750-1781
    Price of beef, veal, oats, barley, corn, apples, turnips, potatoes, white beans, milk, butter, cheese, tea, spices, salt, molasses, chocolate prices in 1768 and 1771, rum in 1766 and other foods transcribed from an original account book of Thomas Hazard of South Kingston, Washington County RI. The preface of this book tells the context and provides some explanation of the various currency used over time -- old tenor, new tenor, lawful money, etc.
  • Bread price in New York, 1770s
    The price of bread was capped from 1777-1783 in response to inflation. Source: Colonial records of the New York Chamber of Commerce, pp. 349-350.

Foreign prices by country - 1700s

ENGLAND

CANADA

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