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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 A to Z, 1850-1859

*Source: Report on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

  • Canada - See also "N" tab (above) for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and "P" tab for Prince Edward Island
  • Canada - Wages and prices, 1853
    • Shows wages for about 40 occupations in shillings and pence. Page forward to see data for additional months of the year.  Source: Emigration: papers relative to emigration to the North American colonies (published 1854).
  • Chile--Talcahuano*
  • Costa Rica*
  • Cuba--Matanzas*

*Source: Report on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

*Source: Report on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

*Source: Report on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

*Source: Report on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

*Source: Report on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

*Source: Report on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

  • Mexico
    • Acapulco*
    • Tampico*
      • Blacksmiths earned from $3 to $3.50 per day
      • Common laborers earned 62 and a half cents per day
      • Carpenters
        • Ship-carpenters earned from $3 to $3.50 per day
        • House-carpenters (American) earned $2.50 per day
        • House-carpenters (Mexican) earned $1.50 per day
      • Bricklayers and plasterers earned $2.50 per day
      • Stone masons
        • American workers earned $2.50 per day
        • Mexican workers earned $1.50 per day
      • Servants earned $4 to $10 per month
      • Country hands earned $6 per month along with one ration of corn per day at the rate of 9 cents
  • Morocco*
  • Netherlands--Rotterdam*
  • Newfoundland--St. John's*
  • Nova Scotia--Halifax*

*Source: Report on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

*SourceReport on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

*SourceReport on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

*SourceReport on the commercial relations of the United States with all foreign nations, vol. 3 (1857). In 1854, surveys were sent to foreign consuls asking the wage rates, currency exchange rates, prices, duties, and more in each port city (see survey questions).  Wages were reported in answer to question #7 of the Second Series.

Wages, 1850s - Analysis

Prices in the United States, 1850-1859

See food prices for various cities and states in the tabbed box, below.

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

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)
  • 1858
    • Indiana, Crawfordsville -- Hairdressing 15¢, shaves 10¢, raised from 5¢  (source)
  • 1859
    • Iowa -- Haircut price 10¢, shaves 5¢ (source)
    • Iowa -- Haircut price 10¢, shaves 5¢ (another source)

PRICES for COMMUNICATION, 1850s

MISCELLANEOUS PRICES, 1850s

Food prices in the United States - 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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Reference service is available Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Marie Concannon, Government Information Librarian
Government Documents Department
106B Ellis Library (1st Floor East)
University of Missouri, Columbia
Phone (573) 882-0748