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JF Ptak science Books    short article 1697


Continuing a new series of write-ups on big, underwritten concealed segments that the background of the American West in my current reading that Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, I come to wonder about what it meant--what to be the value--for one of the cowboys to invest 50 cents.  (The amount comes increase here and there.) What did 50 cents median in a working person's life at the moment this novel bring away place, in 1876?   

One way to look in ~ the worth of a half-dollar climate is to watch what section of a week's pay it represented.  That, and of food to to compare what things expense in general, contrasted to how much it expense to do the money essential to purchase the thing. 

For example, a songsheet as advertised in Spirit of the Time, 1877) cost 30 cents. Coffee ("Gillies Old Plantation") expense 25 cent per pound.  After enjoy it the coffee,  a guy could get a cut for 10-25 cents, or acquire a pair of pair of shoes ("Harman's Hand make Shoes") because that $3; a decent hotel room in a usually city could price $1-2 per night, and a half-barrel that flour would set you earlier $2.50.    A W + C Scott & Sons twin action .45 calibre revolver would placed you back $20 (according come the soul of the Times) in 1877, when a Remington sporting rifle #1 version (30") would certainly run $30.  A simple-ish cap could cost $3 dollars, but a great hat for the trail would certainly be significantly more, ranging from 5-25 dollars. (See more examples below.)

But what walk 50 cents median in terms of a paid salary to a cowboy?  ns think it is relatively safe come say that right now the "average" cowboy made around $30 a month.  Wranglers would pull down $20-$30; top hands, $50-$75, and also the follow boss, say about $100.  So, security a half-dollar would be same to about a half-day's wages. 

So we can see that if girlfriend made $30 a month, safety 50 cent was something

Most employees made more than cowboys—farm hands (with board) made $35-$45 a month; save clerks made $45-$95; “superior clerks and bookkeepers” made $100-$150 monthly; “female cooks and also servants” obtained $25-$35; carpenters ($75 and also up) and masons ($75+) do more.  rail workers structure the first Texas railroad actually got a pay decrease indigenous $2.75 to $2.00 a day. They operated 6 days a week native 7am to 6 pm, and were enabled to fish in the Pecos and also Rio Grande Rivers through dynamite, “Italians ~ above the one side and also Germans ~ above the other.”. (More examples below.)


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Flour, half barrel - $2.50

Piano (7 octave, German, 1870) - $180-$300

Hotel Rooms, midwest city - $1-$2

Shave (Midwest) - 10c-25c

Bicycle Corset - $3

Shirt, muslin (NY, 1877) $2

Dinner velvet (NY, 1881) $3/dozen

Detergent (NY, 1877, “saves time and drudgery”) $.10

Dinner set (NY, 1877, 100 pieces, porcelain) $12

Fork (NY, 1880, unique for children) $2

Fruit, Wine and also Jelly press (1880) $3

Cookie Cutter (1883) $.15

Linoleum (Columbia, SC, 1886) “A” quality, to adjust $.80/yd

Cashmere pants (Chicago, 1875) $3

Music box (NY, 1866) play 1-66 tunes $5-$600

Song sheet (National, 1877) $.40

Stereoscopic images (NY, 1870) $.150/doz

Outdoor & indoor Gear

Good pair the cowboy boots $25

Good saddle $25-$75

Good cowboy hat $10-$20

Remington Sporting Rifle #1 Model, (1877) $30

W&C Scott & young 45 calibre double action (1877) $20

Medical Fees

Dental, extraction (National, 1880) $.25

Dental, silver- fillings $.50 (gold, $1.00)

Dental “teeth extracted complimentary when ordering plate”) $5

Nonprescription medicine “Dr. Hunter’s Botanic Cardinal, restores youth in one week” $1

Nonprescription drug, “Dr. Valve Holm Perfezione, develops and also enlarges all components of the body” $1

Nonprescription medicine “Dr. Melvin Capicum Porous Plaster, the greatest medical discovery due to the fact that the exploration of man, or due to the fact that the start of the Christian era”

Dr. Kilmers mrs Remedy “if yiou have chronic weakness, bearing down, or perversions occurrence to life change” $1

Dr. William’s Pink Pills for Pale People, “Miraculous cure” $.50



2)  What go other people make?


Job Type





Bricklayer (MA)

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Firemen (NY)

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Farm job (Mich)

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Engineer (CT)

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Glassblower (WDC)






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