$100 in 1850 is worth $3,797.06 today

The U.S. dollar has lost 97% its value since 1850

Updated: September 13, 2022

$100 in 1850 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $3,797.06 today, an increase of $3,697.06 over 172 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.14% per year between 1850 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,697.06%.

This means that today's prices are 37.97 times higher than average prices since 1850, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 2.634% of what it could buy back then.

The inflation rate in 1850 was 1.30%. The current inflation rate compared to last year is now 8.26%. If this number holds, $100 today will be equivalent in buying power to $108.26 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.


Inflation from 1850 to 2022
Cumulative price change3,697.06%
Average inflation rate2.14%
Converted amount ($100 base)$3,797.06
Price difference ($100 base)$3,697.06
CPI in 18507.800
CPI in 2022296.171
Inflation in 18501.30%
Inflation in 20228.26%
$100 in 1850$3,797.06 in 2022

USD inflation since 1850
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
Download

Buying power of $100 in 1850

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $100 in 1850 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $100, you would need to end with $3,797.06 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $100 is equivalent to $3,797.06 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 1850 dollars, the chart below shows how $100 is worth less over 172 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: 1850-2022
YearDollar ValueInflation Rate
1850$100.001.30%
1851$98.72-1.28%
1852$98.720.00%
1853$98.720.00%
1854$107.699.09%
1855$111.543.57%
1856$108.97-2.30%
1857$111.542.35%
1858$105.13-5.75%
1859$106.411.22%
1860$106.410.00%
1861$112.826.02%
1862$129.4914.77%
1863$161.5424.75%
1864$201.2824.60%
1865$208.973.82%
1866$203.85-2.45%
1867$189.74-6.92%
1868$182.05-4.05%
1869$174.36-4.23%
1870$167.95-3.68%
1871$156.41-6.87%
1872$156.410.00%
1873$153.85-1.64%
1874$146.15-5.00%
1875$141.03-3.51%
1876$137.18-2.73%
1877$134.62-1.87%
1878$128.21-4.76%
1879$128.210.00%
1880$130.772.00%
1881$130.770.00%
1882$130.770.00%
1883$129.49-0.98%
1884$125.64-2.97%
1885$124.36-1.02%
1886$120.51-3.09%
1887$121.791.06%
1888$121.790.00%
1889$117.95-3.16%
1890$116.67-1.09%
1891$116.670.00%
1892$116.670.00%
1893$115.38-1.10%
1894$110.26-4.44%
1895$107.69-2.33%
1896$107.690.00%
1897$106.41-1.19%
1898$106.410.00%
1899$106.410.00%
1900$107.691.20%
1901$108.971.19%
1902$110.261.18%
1903$112.822.33%
1904$114.101.14%
1905$112.82-1.12%
1906$115.382.27%
1907$120.514.44%
1908$117.95-2.13%
1909$116.67-1.09%
1910$121.794.40%
1911$121.790.00%
1912$124.362.11%
1913$126.922.06%
1914$128.211.01%
1915$129.491.00%
1916$139.747.92%
1917$164.1017.43%
1918$193.5917.97%
1919$221.7914.57%
1920$256.4115.61%
1921$229.49-10.50%
1922$215.38-6.15%
1923$219.231.79%
1924$219.230.00%
1925$224.362.34%
1926$226.921.14%
1927$223.08-1.69%
1928$219.23-1.72%
1929$219.230.00%
1930$214.10-2.34%
1931$194.87-8.98%
1932$175.64-9.87%
1933$166.67-5.11%
1934$171.793.08%
1935$175.642.24%
1936$178.211.46%
1937$184.623.60%
1938$180.77-2.08%
1939$178.21-1.42%
1940$179.490.72%
1941$188.465.00%
1942$208.9710.88%
1943$221.796.13%
1944$225.641.73%
1945$230.772.27%
1946$250.008.33%
1947$285.9014.36%
1948$308.978.07%
1949$305.13-1.24%
1950$308.971.26%
1951$333.337.88%
1952$339.741.92%
1953$342.310.75%
1954$344.870.75%
1955$343.59-0.37%
1956$348.721.49%
1957$360.263.31%
1958$370.512.85%
1959$373.080.69%
1960$379.491.72%
1961$383.331.01%
1962$387.181.00%
1963$392.311.32%
1964$397.441.31%
1965$403.851.61%
1966$415.382.86%
1967$428.213.09%
1968$446.154.19%
1969$470.515.46%
1970$497.445.72%
1971$519.234.38%
1972$535.903.21%
1973$569.236.22%
1974$632.0511.04%
1975$689.749.13%
1976$729.495.76%
1977$776.926.50%
1978$835.907.59%
1979$930.7711.35%
1980$1,056.4113.50%
1981$1,165.3810.32%
1982$1,237.186.16%
1983$1,276.923.21%
1984$1,332.054.32%
1985$1,379.493.56%
1986$1,405.131.86%
1987$1,456.413.65%
1988$1,516.674.14%
1989$1,589.744.82%
1990$1,675.645.40%
1991$1,746.154.21%
1992$1,798.723.01%
1993$1,852.562.99%
1994$1,900.002.56%
1995$1,953.852.83%
1996$2,011.542.95%
1997$2,057.692.29%
1998$2,089.741.56%
1999$2,135.902.21%
2000$2,207.693.36%
2001$2,270.512.85%
2002$2,306.411.58%
2003$2,358.972.28%
2004$2,421.792.66%
2005$2,503.853.39%
2006$2,584.623.23%
2007$2,658.232.85%
2008$2,760.293.84%
2009$2,750.47-0.36%
2010$2,795.591.64%
2011$2,883.833.16%
2012$2,943.512.07%
2013$2,986.631.46%
2014$3,035.081.62%
2015$3,038.680.12%
2016$3,077.011.26%
2017$3,142.562.13%
2018$3,220.902.49%
2019$3,277.661.76%
2020$3,318.101.23%
2021$3,473.984.70%
2022$3,797.069.30%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 166 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1850 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 3,697.06% change in prices:

Conversion: 1850 dollars today
Initial valueEquivalent value
$1 dollar in 1850$37.97 dollars today
$5 dollars in 1850$189.85 dollars today
$10 dollars in 1850$379.71 dollars today
$50 dollars in 1850$1,898.53 dollars today
$100 dollars in 1850$3,797.06 dollars today
$500 dollars in 1850$18,985.32 dollars today
$1,000 dollars in 1850$37,970.64 dollars today
$5,000 dollars in 1850$189,853.21 dollars today
$10,000 dollars in 1850$379,706.41 dollars today
$50,000 dollars in 1850$1,898,532.05 dollars today
$100,000 dollars in 1850$3,797,064.10 dollars today
$500,000 dollars in 1850$18,985,320.51 dollars today
$1,000,000 dollars in 1850$37,970,641.03 dollars today

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £100.00 in 1850 would be equivalent to £14,962.56 in 2022, an absolute change of £14,862.56 and a cumulative change of 14,862.56%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $3,697.06 and total percent change of 3,697.06%.


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 1850 and 2022.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.14% per year:

CategoryAvg Inflation (%)Total Inflation (%)$100 in 1850 → 2022
Food and beverages3.9781,408.2681,508.26
Housing4.21119,431.62119,531.62
Apparel1.982,832.332,932.33
Transportation3.4333,108.1533,208.15
Medical care4.68258,838.56258,938.56
Recreation1.24736.04836.04
Education and communication1.802,055.452,155.45
Other goods and services4.96410,427.05410,527.05

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 1850. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to calculate inflation rate for $100 since 1850

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1850 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1850
×
1850 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 7.8 in the year 1850 and 296.171 in 2022:

296.1717.8
×
$100
=
$3,797.06

$100 in 1850 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $3,797.06 in 2022.

To get the total inflation rate for the 172 years between 1850 and 2022, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2022 - CPI in 1850CPI in 1850
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (172 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

296.171 - 7.87.8
×
100
=
3,697%

Data source & citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1634 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University and from the American Antiquarian Society.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “Value of 1850 dollars today | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 21 Sep. 2022, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1850.

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


Ian Webster

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.

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» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1850 to 2022
Cumulative price change3,697.06%
Average inflation rate2.14%
Converted amount ($100 base)$3,797.06
Price difference ($100 base)$3,697.06
CPI in 18507.800
CPI in 2022296.171
Inflation in 18501.30%
Inflation in 20228.26%
$100 in 1850$3,797.06 in 2022