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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1790-1799

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

Early American currency

Note: A pound, shilling or dollar could have different values in different places. See table comparing the value of European money at each American colony in the 1795 book Some information respecting America by Thomas Cooper, p. 145.

Wages by state, 1790-1799

MILITARY and GOVERNMENT PAY, 1790s

Cost to hire labor in Virginia, 1793.
Source: Some information respecting America by Thomas Cooper, pub. 1795.

  • Richmond
    • White male laborers hired at £13 to £18 annually
    • Male household servants hired at £6 to £9 annually
    • Negro female household servants hired out at £4, 6 shillings to £6 annually
  • Urbanna, Middlesex County
    • Slaves hired out at £6 to £9 pounds per year plus provisions and clothing
  • Frederick and Berkeley counties
    • White labor hired at $5-7 (Spanish dollars) per month, plus board
  • Southwest mountain region
    • White labor, £12 to £16 per year plus board
    • Slave labor, £9 to £12 per year plus food and clothing

Foreign wages, 1790-1799

Food prices by state, 1790-1799

  • Dairy products - Prices for butter; eggs and cheese; quarts of milk.
  • Flour and meal - including "Indian Meal" and rye meal
  • Agricultural products - Apples, barley, beans, corn, oats, potatoes, rice, rye, turnips
  • Meats - Beef, ham, lamb, mutton, pork, veal
  • Fish - Price by the 100/lb. quantity, and also herring and saltfish by the pound.
  • Beverages - Brandy, cider, wine, gin, rum
  • Spices and condiments - Allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, vinegar
  • Food preparations - Biscuits, chocolate, coffee, molasses, lard, salt, sugar and tea

Housing and land prices by state, 1790-1799

  • Winchester, 1794 -- £12 to £22 annually in town
  • Richmond, 1793 -- £15 to £30 annually in town

More prices in the United States, 1790-1799

Prices for HOUSEHOLD ITEMS, 1790s

Prices for CLOTHING and SEWING SUPPLIES, 1790s

  • Footwear - Boots, shoes, sandals, buckles, shoe leather, slippers.
  • Clothing - Hats, stockings, hose, gloves, breeches, pantaloons, shawls and vests.
  • Dress goods - Calico, cambric, gingham, muslin, poplin, satinet, serge, velvet.
  • Dry goods - Flannel, damask and denim, diaper cloth, shirtings, ticking, and more. 
  • Cloth - Broadcloth, cassimere, lambskin, wild boar cloth, corduroy and more.
  • Small wares - Yarn, pins, embroidery silk, cotton and linen thread.  
  • Buttons and ribbons

Prices for TRAVEL and TRANSPORTATION, 1790s

Prices for BUILDING SUPPLIES, 1790s

Prices for ANIMALS, 1790s

Prices for HEALTH CARE, 1790s

POSTAL RATES

NEWSPAPERS

Prices for ENTERTAINMENT, 1790s

MISCELLANEOUS prices, 1790s

Foreign prices by country, 1790-1799

The following book was noted in the statistical literature for providing actual English working class family budgets for the late 18th century.  It does list amounts in English money, so users may wish to check this U.S. dollars to British pounds exchange rate calculator.

Economic analysis and calculators, 1790s

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Marie Concannon, Government Information Librarian
Government Documents Department, Ellis Library
University of Missouri, Columbia
Email: concannonm@missouri.edu
Phone (573) 882-0748