This page points to resources for determining prices,
costs and values.
It covers -
This site features a range of price data from the 1420s
onwards and offers comparisons regarding investment over
the past three hunmdred years, for example commenting
that in real terms the prices paid for some collectibles
(particular Old Master painting, sculpture and ceramics)
during the 1720s or 1890s have never been equalled, despite
contemporary hype about "the most expensive painting".
It also expresses some prices for consumer products and
the scale of industrial investment in pounds sterling
or euros rather than US dollars or Australian dollars.
Making sense of those figures is a challenging task, complicated
by factors such as -
rates and return on capital
page accordingly points to some sources of data (and some
online calculators) that give a broad sense of prices
for consumer and other items, wages and values in Europe,
North America and elsewhere over the past two hundred
Points of entry into literature on prices, incomes and
purchasing power include John McCusker's How much
is that in real money?: a historical price index for use
as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United
States (Worcester: American Antiquarian Society 2001)
and Brian Mitchell's European historical statistics,
1750-1975 (London: Macmillan 1980).
EH.Net offers indicators
of the comparative value of US money - Purchasing
Power of the Dollar, 1665 - Present and What
is the Relative Value? Five Ways to Compare the Worth
of a United States Dollar, 1789 - Present.
The US set the price of gold at US$20.67 per ounce from
1834 until 1933; the UK set it at three pounds 17 shillings
and 10.5 pence from 1844 until 1914, resulting in an exchange
rate of US$4.867 to the pound.
EH.Net also provides
indicators of the purchasing power of the UK pound 1264-2002,
UK average earnings and prices 1264-2002 and the annual
real and nominal GDP for the UK 1086-2000. For Canada
from 1914 see the inflation index here.
For a European converter prior to 1700 see the Marteau
project's Early 18th-Century Currency Converter.
The Global Price & Income History Group (GPIH)
at UC Davis features data for several foodstuffs and non-foodstuffs
for Istanbul 1469-1914, prices in Paris 1500-1870 and
some prices and wages in Spain 1500-1800. There is no
online value converter for Australia and New Zealand.
The Economist offers 'the
Big Mac Index' -
is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the
notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all
countries. Thus in the long run, the exchange rate between
two countries should move towards the rate that equalises
the prices of an identical basket of goods and services
in each country. Our "basket" is a McDonald's
Big Mac, which is produced in about 120 countries. The
Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would mean hamburgers
cost the same in America as abroad. Comparing actual
exchange rates with PPPs indicates whether a currency
is under- or overvalued.
It has been claimed that inflation in the US between 1880
and 1914 averaged 0.1% per year.
Tools for tracking or making sense of wages include -
Institute of Social History global wages & prices
US inflation calculator | here
US Bureau of Labor calculator | here
Worth (UK and US) | here
How Much is That (UK and US) | here
Other resources include -
Institute of Social History index to sites | here
Eichholtz's A Long Run House Price Index: The Herengracht
Index, 1628-1973 paper
(consistent with Robert Shiller's research on US home
prices from 1890) notes that — adjusted for inflation
— real property values on the Herengracht in Amsterdam
between 1628 and 1973 increased by 0.2% per year.