# \$1 in 1840 is worth \$29.93 today

\$

## Value of \$1 from 1840 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 2,892.97% higher than average prices since 1840. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 1.91% per year during this period, causing the real value of a dollar to decrease.

In other words, \$1 in 1840 is equivalent in purchasing power to about \$29.93 in 2020, a difference of \$28.93 over 180 years.

The 1840 inflation rate was -6.45%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 1.18%1. If this number holds, \$1 today will be equivalent in buying power to \$1.01 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.

 Cumulative price change 2,892.97% Average inflation rate 1.91% Converted amount (\$1 base) \$29.93 Price difference (\$1 base) \$28.93 CPI in 1840 8.700 CPI in 2020 260.388 Inflation in 1840 -6.45% Inflation in 2020 1.18%

USD Inflation since 1635
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

## Buying power of \$1 in 1840

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for \$1 in 1840 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with \$1, you would need to end with \$29.93 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When \$1 is equivalent to \$29.93 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.S. dollar decreases over time. In other words, a dollar will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a dollar over time. By calculating the value in 1840 dollars, the chart below shows how \$1 is worth less over 180 years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Dollar inflation: 1840-2020
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1840 \$1.00 -6.45%
1841 \$1.00 0.00%
1842 \$0.94 -5.75%
1843 \$0.85 -9.76%
1844 \$0.86 1.35%
1845 \$0.87 1.33%
1846 \$0.89 1.32%
1847 \$0.94 6.49%
1848 \$0.91 -3.66%
1849 \$0.89 -2.53%
1850 \$0.90 1.30%
1851 \$0.89 -1.28%
1852 \$0.89 0.00%
1853 \$0.89 0.00%
1854 \$0.97 9.09%
1855 \$1.00 3.57%
1856 \$0.98 -2.30%
1857 \$1.00 2.35%
1858 \$0.94 -5.75%
1859 \$0.95 1.22%
1860 \$0.95 0.00%
1861 \$1.01 6.02%
1862 \$1.16 14.77%
1863 \$1.45 24.75%
1864 \$1.80 24.60%
1865 \$1.87 3.82%
1866 \$1.83 -2.45%
1867 \$1.70 -6.92%
1868 \$1.63 -4.05%
1869 \$1.56 -4.23%
1870 \$1.51 -3.68%
1871 \$1.40 -6.87%
1872 \$1.40 0.00%
1873 \$1.38 -1.64%
1874 \$1.31 -5.00%
1875 \$1.26 -3.51%
1876 \$1.23 -2.73%
1877 \$1.21 -1.87%
1878 \$1.15 -4.76%
1879 \$1.15 0.00%
1880 \$1.17 2.00%
1881 \$1.17 0.00%
1882 \$1.17 0.00%
1883 \$1.16 -0.98%
1884 \$1.13 -2.97%
1885 \$1.11 -1.02%
1886 \$1.08 -3.09%
1887 \$1.09 1.06%
1888 \$1.09 0.00%
1889 \$1.06 -3.16%
1890 \$1.05 -1.09%
1891 \$1.05 0.00%
1892 \$1.05 0.00%
1893 \$1.03 -1.10%
1894 \$0.99 -4.44%
1895 \$0.97 -2.33%
1896 \$0.97 0.00%
1897 \$0.95 -1.19%
1898 \$0.95 0.00%
1899 \$0.95 0.00%
1900 \$0.97 1.20%
1901 \$0.98 1.19%
1902 \$0.99 1.18%
1903 \$1.01 2.33%
1904 \$1.02 1.14%
1905 \$1.01 -1.12%
1906 \$1.03 2.27%
1907 \$1.08 4.44%
1908 \$1.06 -2.13%
1909 \$1.05 -1.09%
1910 \$1.09 4.40%
1911 \$1.09 0.00%
1912 \$1.11 2.11%
1913 \$1.14 2.06%
1914 \$1.15 1.01%
1915 \$1.16 1.00%
1916 \$1.25 7.92%
1917 \$1.47 17.43%
1918 \$1.74 17.97%
1919 \$1.99 14.57%
1920 \$2.30 15.61%
1921 \$2.06 -10.50%
1922 \$1.93 -6.15%
1923 \$1.97 1.79%
1924 \$1.97 0.00%
1925 \$2.01 2.34%
1926 \$2.03 1.14%
1927 \$2.00 -1.69%
1928 \$1.97 -1.72%
1929 \$1.97 0.00%
1930 \$1.92 -2.34%
1931 \$1.75 -8.98%
1932 \$1.57 -9.87%
1933 \$1.49 -5.11%
1934 \$1.54 3.08%
1935 \$1.57 2.24%
1936 \$1.60 1.46%
1937 \$1.66 3.60%
1938 \$1.62 -2.08%
1939 \$1.60 -1.42%
1940 \$1.61 0.72%
1941 \$1.69 5.00%
1942 \$1.87 10.88%
1943 \$1.99 6.13%
1944 \$2.02 1.73%
1945 \$2.07 2.27%
1946 \$2.24 8.33%
1947 \$2.56 14.36%
1948 \$2.77 8.07%
1949 \$2.74 -1.24%
1950 \$2.77 1.26%
1951 \$2.99 7.88%
1952 \$3.05 1.92%
1953 \$3.07 0.75%
1954 \$3.09 0.75%
1955 \$3.08 -0.37%
1956 \$3.13 1.49%
1957 \$3.23 3.31%
1958 \$3.32 2.85%
1959 \$3.34 0.69%
1960 \$3.40 1.72%
1961 \$3.44 1.01%
1962 \$3.47 1.00%
1963 \$3.52 1.32%
1964 \$3.56 1.31%
1965 \$3.62 1.61%
1966 \$3.72 2.86%
1967 \$3.84 3.09%
1968 \$4.00 4.19%
1969 \$4.22 5.46%
1970 \$4.46 5.72%
1971 \$4.66 4.38%
1972 \$4.80 3.21%
1973 \$5.10 6.22%
1974 \$5.67 11.04%
1975 \$6.18 9.13%
1976 \$6.54 5.76%
1977 \$6.97 6.50%
1978 \$7.49 7.59%
1979 \$8.34 11.35%
1980 \$9.47 13.50%
1981 \$10.45 10.32%
1982 \$11.09 6.16%
1983 \$11.45 3.21%
1984 \$11.94 4.32%
1985 \$12.37 3.56%
1986 \$12.60 1.86%
1987 \$13.06 3.65%
1988 \$13.60 4.14%
1989 \$14.25 4.82%
1990 \$15.02 5.40%
1991 \$15.66 4.21%
1992 \$16.13 3.01%
1993 \$16.61 2.99%
1994 \$17.03 2.56%
1995 \$17.52 2.83%
1996 \$18.03 2.95%
1997 \$18.45 2.29%
1998 \$18.74 1.56%
1999 \$19.15 2.21%
2000 \$19.79 3.36%
2001 \$20.36 2.85%
2002 \$20.68 1.58%
2003 \$21.15 2.28%
2004 \$21.71 2.66%
2005 \$22.45 3.39%
2006 \$23.17 3.23%
2007 \$23.83 2.85%
2008 \$24.75 3.84%
2009 \$24.66 -0.36%
2010 \$25.06 1.64%
2011 \$25.86 3.16%
2012 \$26.39 2.07%
2013 \$26.78 1.46%
2014 \$27.21 1.62%
2015 \$27.24 0.12%
2016 \$27.59 1.26%
2017 \$28.17 2.13%
2018 \$28.88 2.49%
2019 \$29.39 1.76%
2020 \$29.93 1.85%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 174 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1840 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 2,892.97% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a dollar today
Initial value Equivalent value
\$1 dollar in 1840 \$29.93 dollars today
\$5 dollars in 1840 \$149.65 dollars today
\$10 dollars in 1840 \$299.30 dollars today
\$50 dollars in 1840 \$1,496.48 dollars today
\$100 dollars in 1840 \$2,992.97 dollars today
\$500 dollars in 1840 \$14,964.83 dollars today
\$1,000 dollars in 1840 \$29,929.66 dollars today
\$5,000 dollars in 1840 \$149,648.28 dollars today
\$10,000 dollars in 1840 \$299,296.55 dollars today
\$50,000 dollars in 1840 \$1,496,482.76 dollars today
\$100,000 dollars in 1840 \$2,992,965.52 dollars today
\$500,000 dollars in 1840 \$14,964,827.59 dollars today
\$1,000,000 dollars in 1840 \$29,929,655.17 dollars today

## Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1.00 in 1840 would be equivalent to £102.54 in 2020, an absolute change of £101.54 and a cumulative change of 10,154.44%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of \$28.93 and total percent change of 2,892.97%.

## Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. Breaking down these categories helps explain the main drivers behind price changes. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1840 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 1.91% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) \$1 in 1840 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.90 98,144.84 982.45
Housing 4.19 161,909.25 1,620.09
Apparel 1.96 3,176.98 32.77
Transportation 3.17 27,255.45 273.55
Medical care 5.12 801,023.12 8,011.23
Recreation 1.10 616.39 7.16
Education and communication 1.84 2,576.47 26.76
Other goods and services 4.98 634,496.10 6,345.96

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1840. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

## How to Calculate Inflation Rate for \$1 since 1840

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1840 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1840
×
1840 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 8.7 in the year 1840 and 260.388 in 2020:

260.3888.7
×
\$1
=
\$29.93

\$1 in 1840 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as \$29.93 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 180 years between 1840 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1840CPI in 1840
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (180 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

260.388 - 8.78.7
×
100
=
2,893%

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

• Identification of Antarctica as a new continent by American naval expedition lead by Charles Wilkes.
• Charles Wilkes discovers Antarctica in an American naval expedition.
• Charles Wilkes discovers the Shackleton Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
• The world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black, is released.
• Samuel Morse patents the telegraph.

## Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1665 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “\$1 in 1840 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 4 Dec. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1840?amount=1&endYear=2020.

Special thanks to QuickChart for their chart image API, which is used for chart downloads.