# \$20 in 1842 is worth \$674.61 today

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## Value of \$20 from 1842 to 2021

\$20 in 1842 is equivalent in purchasing power to about \$674.61 today, an increase of \$654.61 over 179 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 1.99% per year between 1842 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,273.04%.

This means that today's prices are 33.73 times higher than average prices since 1842, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 2.96% of what it could buy back then.

The 1842 inflation rate was -5.75%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 6.22%1. If this number holds, \$20 today will be equivalent in buying power to \$21.24 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.

 Cumulative price change 3,273.04% Average inflation rate 1.99% Converted amount (\$20 base) \$674.61 Price difference (\$20 base) \$654.61 CPI in 1842 8.200 CPI in 2021 276.589 Inflation in 1842 -5.75% Inflation in 2021 6.22% \$20 in 1842 \$674.61 in 2021

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

## Buying power of \$20 in 1842

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for \$20 in 1842 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with \$20, you would need to end with \$674.61 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When \$20 is equivalent to \$674.61 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 1842 dollars, the chart below shows how \$20 is worth less over 179 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: 1842-2021
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1842 \$20.00 -5.75%
1843 \$18.05 -9.76%
1844 \$18.29 1.35%
1845 \$18.54 1.33%
1846 \$18.78 1.32%
1847 \$20.00 6.49%
1848 \$19.27 -3.66%
1849 \$18.78 -2.53%
1850 \$19.02 1.30%
1851 \$18.78 -1.28%
1852 \$18.78 0.00%
1853 \$18.78 0.00%
1854 \$20.49 9.09%
1855 \$21.22 3.57%
1856 \$20.73 -2.30%
1857 \$21.22 2.35%
1858 \$20.00 -5.75%
1859 \$20.24 1.22%
1860 \$20.24 0.00%
1861 \$21.46 6.02%
1862 \$24.63 14.77%
1863 \$30.73 24.75%
1864 \$38.29 24.60%
1865 \$39.76 3.82%
1866 \$38.78 -2.45%
1867 \$36.10 -6.92%
1868 \$34.63 -4.05%
1869 \$33.17 -4.23%
1870 \$31.95 -3.68%
1871 \$29.76 -6.87%
1872 \$29.76 0.00%
1873 \$29.27 -1.64%
1874 \$27.80 -5.00%
1875 \$26.83 -3.51%
1876 \$26.10 -2.73%
1877 \$25.61 -1.87%
1878 \$24.39 -4.76%
1879 \$24.39 0.00%
1880 \$24.88 2.00%
1881 \$24.88 0.00%
1882 \$24.88 0.00%
1883 \$24.63 -0.98%
1884 \$23.90 -2.97%
1885 \$23.66 -1.02%
1886 \$22.93 -3.09%
1887 \$23.17 1.06%
1888 \$23.17 0.00%
1889 \$22.44 -3.16%
1890 \$22.20 -1.09%
1891 \$22.20 0.00%
1892 \$22.20 0.00%
1893 \$21.95 -1.10%
1894 \$20.98 -4.44%
1895 \$20.49 -2.33%
1896 \$20.49 0.00%
1897 \$20.24 -1.19%
1898 \$20.24 0.00%
1899 \$20.24 0.00%
1900 \$20.49 1.20%
1901 \$20.73 1.19%
1902 \$20.98 1.18%
1903 \$21.46 2.33%
1904 \$21.71 1.14%
1905 \$21.46 -1.12%
1906 \$21.95 2.27%
1907 \$22.93 4.44%
1908 \$22.44 -2.13%
1909 \$22.20 -1.09%
1910 \$23.17 4.40%
1911 \$23.17 0.00%
1912 \$23.66 2.11%
1913 \$24.15 2.06%
1914 \$24.39 1.01%
1915 \$24.63 1.00%
1916 \$26.59 7.92%
1917 \$31.22 17.43%
1918 \$36.83 17.97%
1919 \$42.20 14.57%
1920 \$48.78 15.61%
1921 \$43.66 -10.50%
1922 \$40.98 -6.15%
1923 \$41.71 1.79%
1924 \$41.71 0.00%
1925 \$42.68 2.34%
1926 \$43.17 1.14%
1927 \$42.44 -1.69%
1928 \$41.71 -1.72%
1929 \$41.71 0.00%
1930 \$40.73 -2.34%
1931 \$37.07 -8.98%
1932 \$33.41 -9.87%
1933 \$31.71 -5.11%
1934 \$32.68 3.08%
1935 \$33.41 2.24%
1936 \$33.90 1.46%
1937 \$35.12 3.60%
1938 \$34.39 -2.08%
1939 \$33.90 -1.42%
1940 \$34.15 0.72%
1941 \$35.85 5.00%
1942 \$39.76 10.88%
1943 \$42.20 6.13%
1944 \$42.93 1.73%
1945 \$43.90 2.27%
1946 \$47.56 8.33%
1947 \$54.39 14.36%
1948 \$58.78 8.07%
1949 \$58.05 -1.24%
1950 \$58.78 1.26%
1951 \$63.41 7.88%
1952 \$64.63 1.92%
1953 \$65.12 0.75%
1954 \$65.61 0.75%
1955 \$65.37 -0.37%
1956 \$66.34 1.49%
1957 \$68.54 3.31%
1958 \$70.49 2.85%
1959 \$70.98 0.69%
1960 \$72.20 1.72%
1961 \$72.93 1.01%
1962 \$73.66 1.00%
1963 \$74.63 1.32%
1964 \$75.61 1.31%
1965 \$76.83 1.61%
1966 \$79.02 2.86%
1967 \$81.46 3.09%
1968 \$84.88 4.19%
1969 \$89.51 5.46%
1970 \$94.63 5.72%
1971 \$98.78 4.38%
1972 \$101.95 3.21%
1973 \$108.29 6.22%
1974 \$120.24 11.04%
1975 \$131.22 9.13%
1976 \$138.78 5.76%
1977 \$147.80 6.50%
1978 \$159.02 7.59%
1979 \$177.07 11.35%
1980 \$200.98 13.50%
1981 \$221.71 10.32%
1982 \$235.37 6.16%
1983 \$242.93 3.21%
1984 \$253.41 4.32%
1985 \$262.44 3.56%
1986 \$267.32 1.86%
1987 \$277.07 3.65%
1988 \$288.54 4.14%
1989 \$302.44 4.82%
1990 \$318.78 5.40%
1991 \$332.20 4.21%
1992 \$342.20 3.01%
1993 \$352.44 2.99%
1994 \$361.46 2.56%
1995 \$371.71 2.83%
1996 \$382.68 2.95%
1997 \$391.46 2.29%
1998 \$397.56 1.56%
1999 \$406.34 2.21%
2000 \$420.00 3.36%
2001 \$431.95 2.85%
2002 \$438.78 1.58%
2003 \$448.78 2.28%
2004 \$460.73 2.66%
2005 \$476.34 3.39%
2006 \$491.71 3.23%
2007 \$505.71 2.85%
2008 \$525.13 3.84%
2009 \$523.26 -0.36%
2010 \$531.84 1.64%
2011 \$548.63 3.16%
2012 \$559.99 2.07%
2013 \$568.19 1.46%
2014 \$577.40 1.62%
2015 \$578.09 0.12%
2016 \$585.38 1.26%
2017 \$597.85 2.13%
2018 \$612.76 2.49%
2019 \$623.55 1.76%
2020 \$631.25 1.23%
2021 \$674.61 6.87%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 173 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1842 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 3,273.04% change in prices:

Conversion: 1842 dollars today
Initial value Equivalent value
\$1 dollar in 1842 \$33.73 dollars today
\$5 dollars in 1842 \$168.65 dollars today
\$10 dollars in 1842 \$337.30 dollars today
\$50 dollars in 1842 \$1,686.52 dollars today
\$100 dollars in 1842 \$3,373.04 dollars today
\$500 dollars in 1842 \$16,865.18 dollars today
\$1,000 dollars in 1842 \$33,730.37 dollars today
\$5,000 dollars in 1842 \$168,651.83 dollars today
\$10,000 dollars in 1842 \$337,303.66 dollars today
\$50,000 dollars in 1842 \$1,686,518.29 dollars today
\$100,000 dollars in 1842 \$3,373,036.59 dollars today
\$500,000 dollars in 1842 \$16,865,182.93 dollars today
\$1,000,000 dollars in 1842 \$33,730,365.85 dollars today

## Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £20.00 in 1842 would be equivalent to £2,375.19 in 2021, an absolute change of £2,355.19 and a cumulative change of 11,775.96%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of \$654.61 and total percent change of 3,273.04%.

## 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 1842 and 2021.

Compare these values to the overall average of 1.99% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) \$20 in 1842 → 2021
Food and beverages 3.89 92,884.96 18,596.99
Housing 4.17 149,386.88 29,897.38
Apparel 1.96 3,111.15 642.23
Transportation 3.28 32,094.48 6,438.90
Medical care 4.69 364,208.17 72,861.63
Recreation 1.14 662.45 152.49
Education and communication 1.84 2,494.50 518.90
Other goods and services 4.94 564,505.52 112,921.10

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 1842. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

## How to Calculate Inflation Rate for \$20 since 1842

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1842 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1842
×
1842 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 8.2 in the year 1842 and 276.589 in 2021:

276.5898.2
×
\$20
=
\$674.61

\$20 in 1842 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as \$674.61 in 2021.

To get the total inflation rate for the 179 years between 1842 and 2021, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2021 - CPI in 1842CPI in 1842
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (179 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

276.589 - 8.28.2
×
100
=
3,273%

## News headlines from 1842

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

• A British surgeon, Dr William Brydon, became famous for being the only survivor of an entire army, 16,500 men strong, during the first Afghan War.
• Regent of the Emperor of Ethiopia, Ras Ali Alula defeats Wube Haile Maryam of Semien in the Debre Tabor Battle
• America Declares the Second Seminole War against Indians, which was to remove them from Florida and Oklahoma.
• The Opium War ends after,Great Britain and China,sign the treaty of Nanking.

## 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: “\$20 in 1842 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 28 Nov. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1842?amount=20.

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

#### About the author

Ian Webster is an engineer and data expert based in San Mateo, California. He has worked for Google, NASA, and consulted for governments around the world on data pipelines and data analysis. Disappointed by the lack of clear resources on the impacts of inflation on economic indicators, Ian believes this website serves as a valuable public tool. Ian earned his degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College.

 Cumulative price change 3,273.04% Average inflation rate 1.99% Converted amount (\$20 base) \$674.61 Price difference (\$20 base) \$654.61 CPI in 1842 8.200 CPI in 2021 276.589 Inflation in 1842 -5.75% Inflation in 2021 6.22% \$20 in 1842 \$674.61 in 2021