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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1850-1859

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

Wages in the United States, 1850-1859

Wages reported at State and Local Levels, 1850-1859

WAGES in CALIFORNIA, 1850s

WAGES in ILLINOIS, 1850s

WAGES in KANSAS, 1850s

WAGES in MAINE, 1850s

WAGES in NEW HAMPSHIRE, 1850s

WAGES in OHIO, 1850s

Wages in Foreign Countries, 1850-1859

Wages, 1850s - Analysis

Prices in the United States, 1850-1859

PRICES for FOOD, 1850s

PRICES for CLOTHING and SEWING SUPPLIES, 1850s

  • Men's heavy boots, priced by the pair in dozens of U.S. towns and cities.  This table spans two pages; see the town names on the first page and the 1850s prices on the second page.
  • Boots, shoes and leather prices in Massachusetts.  Detailed prices for style and type of shoe, boot, sandal, slipper, rubber overshoe, etc. 
  • Ready made clothing prices in Massachusetts: prices for hats, handkerchiefs and stockings, gloves, breeches, pantaloons, hose and coats, shawls and vests, mittens and waistcoats.
  • Sewing machine prices, 1859
    Sewing machines made for home use were priced from $50 to $125 in 1859. Source: newspaper advertisement.
  • Fabric prices in dozens of U.S. towns and cities, including prices for shirtings, cotton flannel, ticking, prints, and more.
  • Cloth and dress goods in Massachusetts: prices for alpaca wool and calico by the yard, as well as batiste, cambric, cashmere, crape, gingham, gauze, lawn, muslin, linsey woolsey, plaid, poplin, satin, silk, velvet and many other fabric types.  More fabrics are listed under the Dry goods heading which also shows prices for blankets, cotton flannel, damask and denim, diaper cloth, shirtings, ticking, and more.  Also find prices for buttons and dress trimmings, ribbons and laces and small wares such as yarn, needles, pins, embroidery silk, cotton and linen thread. 

PRICES for HOUSEHOLD ITEMS, 1850s

  • Historical retail prices in Massachusetts: furniture, carpetings, cutlery (table knives and forks and pocket knives); paper: letter paper, priced by the sheet, tallow, candles, soap, etc.oils for illumination, to light lamps and lanterns; fuel: charcoal, oak wood, pine wood, coal, etc.; tobacco and snuff: prices for cigars by the dozen, and tobacco and snuff by the pound or (sometimes) ounce.  Miscellaneous household items: prices for brooms, brass kettles, brick, matches, tubs, tumblers, clocks, candlesticks, silver watches, feathers, wine glasses and more. 
  • Price of soap and starch in dozens of U. S. cities. Scroll forward in the source to see tables for each city.

TRANSPORTATION PRICES, 1850s

HOUSING and LAND PRICES, 1850s

PRICES for HEALTH CARE, 1850s

PRICES for SERVICES, 1850s

  • 1854 
    • Virginia -- Haircut price 12½¢, shaves 10¢ (source)
    • Indiana -- Haircut price 15¢, shaves 10¢ (source)
    • Ohio -- Haircut price 15¢, shaves 5-10¢ (source)
  • 1855
    • New York City -- Shave price 6¢ (source)
    • New York City -- Shave price 6¢ (another source)
    • Virginia -- Children's haircuts, 12½¢ for boys and 18¾¢ for girls (source)
  • 1859
    • Iowa -- Haircut price 10¢, shaves 5¢ (source)
    • Iowa -- Haircut price 10¢, shaves 5¢ (another source)

PRICES for COMMUNICATION, 1850s

MISCELLANEOUS PRICES, 1850s

Prices in Foreign Countries, 1850-1859

Prices in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1850s

Click the tabs above for single countries.

Prices in BELGIUM, 1850s

Prices in CANADA, 1850s

Prices in GREAT BRITAIN, 1850s

Prices in HAWAII, 1850s

Prices in ITALY, 1850s

Prices in MOROCCO, 1850s

Prices in SPAIN, 1850s

Prices in SWEDEN, 1850s

Prices in TURKEY, 1850s

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Marie Concannon, Government Information Librarian
Government Documents Department
106B Ellis Library (1st Floor East)
University of Missouri, Columbia
Phone (573) 882-0748