What was Money Worth?

$0.03 First Class Stamp, 1851
$0.09 One yard cheap cloth
$0.65 Railroad labor’s daily wage, New York
$0.75-6 Ready-made pantaloons
$1 Day’s wages for a working man, United States 1850
$1 One Egg, Sacramento 1849
$1 Dinner at hotel in mining area
$1 Bed in dormitory-hotel for one night
$2 One sheet paper, Sacramento 1852
$2 Plaid dress; 1 yard merino
$5 Postage on pony express, ½ ounce of mail
$9 One month’s wages for teaching school
$1-4 One week’s wages for a cotton mill female worker
$1-5 Steamer passage, Sacramento to San Francisco
$1-15 Ready-made men’s coat
$3-10 Lady’s Hat
$4-8 Average day’s production of gold, one miner’s share
$8 One week's meals at a good Sacramento restaurant, 1857
$8-10 Lady’s parasol
$12-14 One ounce gold dust
$22.50 Broche shawl, New York, 1846
$25 Colt 1951 Navy Revolver, in New York
$25 Lot in San Francisco
$40 English concertina, in London
$200 Colt 1951 Navy Revolver, in Sacramento 1851
$30,000 Crocker mansion, purchase price 1868

It is difficult to translate values from one time period to another because the changes in technology and culture alter the basis of comparison. For example, a sheet of paper that cost $2 in 1850 Sacramento costs $0.02 in 2004 (a factor of 100:1), but 8 hours at minimum wage was $1 on 1850 and is $50 in 2004 (a factor of 50:1). That $25 revolver is now $250 (a factor of 10:1). The ounce of gold that was worth $16 then is now worth $400 (a factor of 25:1)

To make price comparisons, it’s probably reasonable to multiply the 1850’s price by 25 to 50 to get 21st century equivalents.