You often see articles about life 50, 100 or 150 years ago explain how much a dollar was worth back then.
Saying something is "adjusted for inflation" is a good way to try to compare how much your groceries might have cost or how much you might get paid for a day's work.
Over the last 170 years, inflation has increased everything by a factor of about 36
But during the California Gold Rush, everything got out of whack. Merchants in most towns could not get the supplies they needed for all the miners and prices soared.
Paper money, or greenbacks, were not introduced until March 1863
so for many years in California gold was the only hard currency. Later gold coins were produced by US mints, but for the rough and tumble of an early
mining camp a leather pouch filled with gold dust or nuggets ruled the day.
In the early 1850s, you might get paid an ounce of gold for a days work, which was considered to be about $16 a day. At the same time back East, most workers would have been happy to be paid $2-3 a day.
The offical price of gold was $20.67 per ounce, which today "adjusted for inflation" is about $750
But an ounce of gold today can be sold for about $1,800
While most forty-niners returned home broke, there were so amazing finds recorded in Nevada City. The following article appeared in the
Nevada City Transcript
on February 3, 1898, at the time of the Klondike Gold Rush.
the links in the article will show you how much that amount of gold is worth day.
The Klondike Not in It.
This afternoon A. Isoard, the Broad St. merchant who came here in 1849, told the Transcript about some finds of gold in this district in the early days that make the present tales from Klondike appear tame.
In 1850 Mr. Isoard and his six partners took from a claim 40x60 feet in dimensions and situated just back of where Mrs. C. Beckman's house now stands on East Broad St., the sum of
One pan yielded $912 in nuggets and two other pans paid
One day the richest pan was only $135 and they all got discouraged because they thought the ground was petering.
The clean-ups ran from $2,000 to
$3,000 a day. Joseph Figuiere who has been in the money order department of the San Francisco post office for years,
and Mr. Isoard are the only two surviving members of the company.
On Wet Hill in 1855 the late L. Hirschman washed one pan of dirt that paid $832.
In the Nebraska diggings in 1866 the late Harry Seymour got a pan one day that produced $1,110.
One pan taken at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain in 1857 gave $1,200,
that I being the best result that Mr. Isoard has any recollection of.
Try out the gold and inflation calculator
to see how much your pile would have been worth!