Casefile Clues

17 July 2007

Price of Corn in western Illinois in 1877

Prices of everything are relative.
The image to the right shows the value of a few items from the estate of Mimke Habben in Hancock County, Illinois in 1877. The corn was born 25 cents a bushel as were the oats. The problem with comparing value today with value then is there are a variety of factors at play, including supply and demand, historical uses of items, etc.
While it is fun to compare prices of items, it must be done with care. In this case, we really don't know the quality of the grain in question. We do know that the corn and oats had the same per bushel value, which may or may not be true at other points in time. One could utilize old newspapers in order to get an idea of grain prices contemporary to the document being shown partially here (the actual date is March of 1877).
There is a neat website that provides more food for thought on the "current" value of money or an item:
Michael