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What Did It Cost?

December 2023
1min read

No question would seem simpler, yet none is more frustrating to historians. Determining the price of a town house in 1880 or a chicken sandwich in 1904 is easy; what’s tough is figuring out what the sum really meant to people. Now John Steele Gordon has taken on the task of finding out how to translate prices across the years, and he’s come up with a series of intriguing and useful rules that will help you figure out why your grandfather could flourish on twelve hundred dollars a year when you can’t afford new curtains for the dining room.

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