Cover image for The value of a dollar : prices and incomes in the United States, 1860-1999
The value of a dollar : prices and incomes in the United States, 1860-1999
Derks, Scott.
Millennium edition, second edition.
Publication Information:
Lakeville, CT : Grey House, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 493 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
General Note:
"A Manly, Inc. book."
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HB235.U6 V35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
HB235.U6 V35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material

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Examines what things have cost and how much money people have had to buy them, recording the actual prices of thousands of items that consumers purchased from the Civil War to the present, along with facts about investment options and income opportunities. Draws on over 500 sources, including trade cards, newspapers, magazines, catalogues, direct-mail letters, and posters. The first of the five chronological chapters, covering up to 1899, is in a different format because the foundations for a national consumer economy were just being established and little in the way of public advertisements or government statistics were produced. The subsequent chapters begin with a background essay describing the major social and economic forces of the period, then report prices and income in subchapters on such areas as investments, standard incomes, food, and amusements. There is no index. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

When politician Thomas R. Marshall said in 1920 that "what this country needs is a really good 5-cent cigar," cigars typically cost twice that much. When Herbert Hoover made the statement often paraphrased as "a chicken in every pot" in 1928, chicken cost around 38 cents per pound. How do we know? Because we looked it up in this new edition (the first was published by Gale in 1994) of a fascinating survey of American wages and prices over past 139 years.

Choice Review

Much like the first edition (CH, May'94), this millennium edition contains five broad chapters covering 20 to 40 years that, with the exception of the chapter covering 1860 to 1899, are subarranged by five-year periods. For each five-year period a historical snapshot gives context to tables of selected consumer expenditures, investments, income levels (from want ads), national average income for standard jobs, prices for commonly bought food items, and prices of other selected items (from catalogs, newspapers, and magazines). This edition includes two new five-year periods (1990-94 and 1995-99), an appendix of prices of selected goods and services over periods of 30 to 130 years, and a bibliography of books consulted. The millennium edition uses a slightly larger font and spaces tables more closely than the first edition--improvements that make for easy reading. The only weakness of the millennium edition is that it was published too soon; in many of the new tables the most recent information is from 1997 or 1998. Otherwise this is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the history of consumer prices. D. G. Ernsthausen University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill