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Wages and incomes 1790s

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Has anyone ever researched how much people earned in the 1790s? I'm thinking wages for laborers in the citjes and income from farming where an hourly or daily wage wouldn't have been earned.

I've been reading up on the 1792 contract rifles made for the US government in Lancaster. They cost $12. They are considered to be just like the basic low cost hunting rifles of the day.. How many hours would a tradesman have to put in to afford such a basic gun? What portion of farm income would $12 be?

I've tried some online research but so far haven't found a good answer.
 

tenngun

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It’s hard to make a great comparison. Somethings that were expensive then is cheap now. When Nathan Boone ran his salt factory near Arrowrock sold salt for .10 a pound, the same price as ‘common gunpowder’. Food was higher.
Land and housing cheaper then today. People, even in town, would keep a garden and chickens goats and pigs. Most people had little clothing. A few changes of clothing at the most.
A successful farmer may live very well but have little real money pass through his hands over the corse of a year. A man who signed on a whaling ship may spend two or three years at sea and get paired off with little.
Up until 1812 privates were paid ‘a dime a day’ Three dollars a month, and often had silly deductions made on his pay.
Many lived on the frontier completely by barter.
 
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Thanks for the link. After wading through it it likes like the average man would have worked from anywhere between two weeks and a month to earn enough for a plain $12 rifle. That's really not so much different than today, I guess.

There were very likely more $12 rifles made than the $35-40 (in 1790 money) show pieces everyone wants to imitate today. That would esily be two to four months income for the average man.

I got a kick out of the mention of Nathan Boone. He is some sort of relative-in-law of mine. One of my great aunts, who married into the family, was a Boone, a great grandaughter of Daniel.
 

Kansas Jake

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The $12 would probably take more than 2-4 months to make as extra money to buy the rifle. The person making those wages would have to eat, pay for other stuff and cover family expenses too if they had a family. It might take much longer to acquire the money for a $12 firearm. I think Tenngun makes an excellent observation about income.
 

billraby

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Dollar numbers do not really translate very well from then to now. So forget about numbers. Rifles in 1790 cost about the same as what they do today. Just realize that there was no such thing as a mass produced Savage or Ruger designed to cost as little as possible. About all that was available was a custom rifle. It would take just as long to save up the money for a custom rifle now as it did back then.
 

smoothshooter

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The $12 would probably take more than 2-4 months to make as extra money to buy the rifle. The person making those wages would have to eat, pay for other stuff and cover family expenses too if they had a family. It might take much longer to acquire the money for a $12 firearm. I think Tenngun makes an excellent observation about income.
[/QUOTE
What I like to do is look at copies of old ledger books and price lists
on inventories of goods that list a wide variety of new items. I compare the price of a pound of powder to the price of an “ ordinary rifle “, or a dozen flints, or a dozen trade knives, etc.
When checked against modern pricing of the same items those relative costs can shed some light on how easy or difficult it may have been for an individual to afford them.
 

tenngun

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Dollar numbers do not really translate very well from then to now. So forget about numbers. Rifles in 1790 cost about the same as what they do today. Just realize that there was no such thing as a mass produced Savage or Ruger designed to cost as little as possible. About all that was available was a custom rifle. It would take just as long to save up the money for a custom rifle now as it did back then.
Not exactly custom rifles. Much guns were contract guns. A company like American Fur Ect would contract with makers to turn out rifles. And makers made spec guns to have in the shop for a buyer. The US government until 1821 bought rifles to trade to Indians. Many of these fell in to the hands of private trades who sold to whites or Indians.
There were a lot of makers making smoothies for trade or for at home use, and England France and Belgium makers were exporting guns to America. And England did make rifles for the American trade, though mostly they were shipping locks and barrels
So you couldn’t find a shop with a thousand guns behind the counter one could get a pre made rifle and have several to choose from.
 

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