Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Shopping for Groceries in 1836

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Looking over the page from Roswell C. Smith’s 1836 Practical and Mental Arithmetic on a New Plan, you can get a rough idea of what prices were like in the early 1800's. Coffee, 35 cents per pound. A self-sharpening plough, $3.50. A whip, a buck fourteen. And a gallon of gin, 60 cents, which was “about two-thirds of a day’s wages for the average non-farm white male worker.” (View the prices in a larger format here.)

There's also some items that could’ve warmed you on those long, cold frontier nights… Some gin, perhaps…or wine? Rum? Brandy?

Smith’s shopkeeper would’ve been well provisioned, laying the stuff in by the barrel, hogshead, and pipe-full.

As for that “bladder” of snuff, a post on the Snuffhouse forum suggests that it wasn’t a euphemism, but the actual bladder of a hog, paced with 4 pounds of snortin’ tobacco.

Of course, Smith’s shopkeeper would’ve also carried a healthy assortment of wholesome goods- hymnals, children’s shoes, calico, satin, silk, whips…

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