I receive a lot of email about my “What Did Things Cost in 1860?” and “What Did Things Cost in 1872?” posts. Many people have asked if I would post more prices from these years from the old family journals. So here are prices for 1860, 1872, 1878, and 1882… for “groceries, provisions, fuel, dry goods, rents, and boards.”

GROCERIES
QUANTITIES ARTICLES AVERAGE RETAIL PRICES
(standard gold)
1860 1872 1878 1882
Barrel Flour, wheat, super-fine $7.61 $10.75 $8.03 $9.92
Barrel Flour, wheat, family $7.14 $12.75 $7.96 $8.57
Pound Flour, rye $0.03 $0.03 $0.04 $0.05
Pound Corn meal $0.02 $0.01 $0.02 $0.04
Pound Codfish, dry $0.05 $0.08 $0.06 $0.08
Pound Rice $0.07 $0.11 $0.09 $0.10
Quart Beans $0.08 $0.09 $0.08 $0.13
Pound Tea, oolong $0.54 $0.69 $0.60 $0.58
Pound Coffee, Rio, green $0.21 $0.34 $0.23 $0.19
Pound Coffee, roasted $0.23 $0.42 $0.26 $0.29
Pound Sugar, good brown $0.08 $0.10 $0.08 $0.10
Pound Sugar, coffee $0.09 $0.10 $0.09 $0.10
Pound Sugar, granulated $0.10 $0.12 $0.10 $0.11
Gallon Molasses, New Orleans $0.50 $0.70 $0.57 $0.67
Gallon Molasses, Porto Rico $0.57 $0.76 $0.68 $0.63
Gallon Syrup $0.63 $0.75 $0.86 $0.77
Pound Soap, common $0.08 $0.08 $0.08 $0.07
Pound Starch $0.11 $0.12 $0.10 $0.09

A few coins from my mother’s collection
PROVISIONS
QUANTITIES ARTICLES AVERAGE RETAIL PRICES
(standard gold)
1860 1872 1878 1882
Pound Beef, roasting $0.11 $0.19 $0.14 $0.17
Pound Beef, soup $0.04 $0.07 $0.05 $0.06
Pound Beef, rump steak $0.14 $0.29 $0.21 $0.21
Pound Beef, corned $0.06 $0.10 $0.08 $0.10
Pound Veal, fore-quarter $0.07 $0.10 $0.10 $0.11
Pound Veal, hind-quarter $0.11 $0.17 $0.16 $0.15
Pound Veal, cutlets $0.14 $0.28 $0.20 $0.20
Pound Mutton, fore-quarter $0.07 $0.10 $0.10 $0.12
Pound Mutton, leg $0.12 $0.19 $0.17 $0.16
Pound Mutton, chops $0.13 $0.15 $0.19 $0.18
Pound Pork, fresh $0.11 $0.12 $0.10 $0.13
Pound Pork, salted $0.11 $0.11 $0.10 $0.13
Pound Hams, smoked $0.13 $0.13 $0.13 $0.15
Pound Shoulders, corned $0.08 $0.10 $0.09 $0.12
Pound Sausages $0.11 $0.12 $0.11 $0.14
Pound Lard $0.13 $0.12 $0.11 $0.15
Pound Mackerel, pickled $0.09 $0.13 $0.13 $0.13
Pound Butter $0.21 $0.39 $0.25 $0.35
Pound Cheese $0.13 $0.17 $0.12 $0.18
Bushel Potatoes $0.59 $1.02 $0.98 $1.26
Quart Milk $0.04 $0.08 $0.05 $0.06
Dozen Eggs $0.20 $0.30 $0.25 $0.40

Notice how a pound of butter and a dozen eggs each cost more than a pound of meat… and a pair of heavy men’s boots in 1860 cost only pennies less than a whole week’s worth of room and board!

FUEL
QUANTITIES ARTICLES AVERAGE RETAIL PRICES
(standard gold)
1860 1872 1878 1882
Ton Coal $6.40 $9.25 $6.45 $7.84
Cord Wood, hard $6.49 $10.12 $6.74 $8.97
Cord Wood, pine $4.42 $7.00 $5.04 $7.09
DRY GOODS
QUANTITIES ARTICLES AVERAGE RETAIL PRICES
(standard gold)
1860 1872 1878 1882
Yard Shirting, 4-4 brown $0.09 $0.13 $0.08 $0.09
Yard Shirting, 4-4 bleached $0.10 $0.16 $0.10 $0.11
Yard Sheeting, 9-8 brown $0.10 $0.14 $0.09 $0.11
Yard Sheeting, 9-8 bleached $0.13 $0.19 $0.12 $0.14
Yard Cotton flannel $0.15 $0.27 $0.15 $0.16
Yard Ticking $0.17 $0.24 $0.18 $0.17
Yard Prints $0.11 $0.11 $0.08 $0.08
Yard Satinet $0.56 $0.59 $0.54 $0.54
Pair Boots, men’s heavy $2.75 $3.94 $3.24 $3.19

This compilation of prices is from a small government statistics book published in 1883 that was inside one of the old family journals. All prices have been rounded up or down to the nearest cent and cover a span of twenty-two years.

RENTS
QUANTITIES ARTICLES AVERAGE RETAIL PRICES
(standard gold)
1860 1872 1878 1882
Month 4-room tenement $4.45 $14.75 $5.55 $7.99
Month 6-room tenement $7.54 $16.00 $9.43 $12.25
BOARDS
QUANTITIES ARTICLES AVERAGE RETAIL PRICES
(standard gold)
1860 1872 1878 1882
Week Men $2.79 $5.62 $4.19 $4.75
Week Women $1.79 $3.75 $2.63 $3.00

The higher figures for 1872 are not typos… the cost of almost everything rose dramatically that year but had dropped again in most instances six years later.


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Comments

Michael

Panic of 1873 and the resulting depression in Europe is most likely the cause of your price disparity between 1872 and 1878.

Autumn

I happened to be doing a project that required me to find out what the prices of items were back during the American Civil War and I couldn’t find any information!!! This article was EXTREMELY helpful, haha :)

Ethan

Would Board be how much they were paid for a week or is it the cost of something else? Just wondering, thanks!

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Ethan, room and board means that meals are included in the cost of the room. Sometimes other services (like laundry) were included as well, but usually room and board means a place to live and meals included in the price.

Family Historian

I can confirm these prices, I inherited family ledgers from the 1880’s, east coast rural general store in New England, and the price of eggs and made goods shocked me. Shoes cost a fortune, nearly as much as rent or mortgage.

Think about paying $900+ for a plain pair of yellow, steel toe workboots, or 1/10th of that for one dozen eggs.

$90 for a dozen eggs in equivalent dollars.