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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


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.


  • Indentured servants' labor contracts in Maryland, 1634-1820
    The chapter "Indenture and the Custom of the Country" discusses how long one had to work in order to pay off the cost of an ocean voyage to America. Source: Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science (published 1904), p. 37.


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. 


  • 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.


  • Pay for labor in Rhode Island, 1750s-1770s
    See the preface of this book for context and an explanation of the different money systems cited (old tenor, new tenor, lawful money, etc.)
    • Men's work was valued at 12 shillings per day in 1756
    • Mowing was valued at 3 pounds a day in 1759
    • Farm labor was valued at 1 pound, 10 shillings in 1759
    • Gardening was valued at 3 pounds per day in 1764
    • Carting was valued at 9 shillings (lawful tenor) per day in 1771
    • Carting wood was valued at 9 shillings (lawful tenor) per day in 1774
    • Mowing was valued at 3 shillings (lawful tenor) per day in 1779
  • Clothing makers' pay in Rhode Island
  • Housewife labor in Rhode Island "Housewifery" was valued at 25 shillings per week in 1757 and at 50 shillings per week in 1766. Source: original account book from the vicinity of South Kingston, Washington County, RI.

Wages in England up through 1779

Price and wage analysis, 1700s

Prices in the American colonies, up through 1779

PRICES for FOOD, up through 1779

PRICES for HOUSEHOLD ITEMS and FARM TOOLS, up through 1779

PRICES for OCEAN PASSAGE, up through 1779

PRICES for OVERLAND TRAVEL, up through 1779

PRICES for TOBACCO, up through 1779

PRICES for CLOTHING and SHOES, up through 1779

PRICES for HOUSING and LAND, up through 1779


PRICES for SERVICES, up through 1779

PRICES for HEALTH CARE, up through 1779

International prices by country - 1700s



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Marie Concannon, Government Information Librarian
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Phone (573) 882-0748