Skip to main content

What Did It Cost?

May 2024
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.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate