Saturday, June 15, 2024


Now and Then: The Prices of Everyday Items – Part One

According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, $1 in 1880 is equivalent to $30.74 in 2024. According to the site, “The inflation rate in 1880 was 2.00%.”

The conversion of $5 in 1880 equals $153.70 today. And finally, $1,000 in 1880 is equivalent to $30,740.00 today.

All quite interesting as the prices of everyday items through the years have always intrigued me. As I perused through research for my current books, I stumbled upon the cost of items we might use if we were shopping in the late 1800s.

Mercantile items:

Coffee - 30₵ a pound

Ladies Home Journal available for purchase at the newsstand - 10₵

Ladies hand-turned button shoes - $4.50

Corsets - $1.00

Children’s all-wool cloaks - $2

Men’s suits - $8.98

Tansill’s Punch cigar - 5₵


A bath at a Colorado barber shop - $1


Board and lodging at the ACME Hotel in Gold Hill, Wyoming - $10/week

Round trip train ticket from Hailey, Idaho, to St. Louis, Missouri - $58.25

Passengers of the G&C Railroad offered dinner at the Dinner House in Prosperity, South Carolina - 50₵

Blank certificates for sale at an Idaho newspaper:

Marriage certificates - $1/each

Blank warrant of arrest - $.50/each

Quit-claim deed - $1.00/each

Real Estate:

Real estate today is particularly high. In my neck of the woods, .23 acres sells for $99,000. The cost of 160 acres in Idaho in an 1886 advertisement was $2,500. This included a house, shed, barn, and fruit trees. Another advertisement in Idaho in 1892 listed a farm with fruit trees and an abundance of other amenities for $4,000.


What about wages? In one newspaper article, I discovered that a Michigan post office increased the salary of their employees by $100 to $2,400 per year in 1893. “The average base salary” for a USPS employee today is $65,000 per year according to

Join me next month when we'll take another look at the prices of everyday items. In the meantime, what item and its price in the post did you find most interesting?


A most unusual proposal...

Alone in 1870s Idaho Territory, Paisley Abbott has nowhere to turn. With no other options, she finds herself consenting to an unconventional, but mutually beneficial agreement.

During an unplanned return to his family’s farm, prodigal Tyler Shepherdson inherits three orphans. When Tyler finds a woman hiding in the back of his wagon, an idea begins to form and he makes a rash decision that results in perhaps one of the most spontaneous marriages of convenience ever.

Despite an unorthodox beginning to their marriage, will Paisley and Tyler trust God as they forge ahead to create a home for three children? Will love arise from a desperate situation?

PENNY ZELLER is known for her heartfelt stories of faith,   love, and humor and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics. Today, Penny is a multi-published author of over two dozen books. She is also a fitness instructor, loves the outdoors, and is a flower gardening addict. She resides with her husband and two daughters in small-town America and loves to connect with her readers at

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  1. Thank you for posting today. Welcome to HHH, I don't remember seeing you here before. I was intrigued by the cost of a man's suit and a lady's shoes. They seem disproportionally high. Maybe the stores figured if you had enough money to purchase those items, the price wouldn't matter to you?

  2. Hi Connie! Thank you for stopping by and for your warm welcome. I am a new author with HHH, and am thrilled to be here.

  3. A very interesting post. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Sherri! Have a fantastic week.