$1 in 1851 is worth $38.46 today

Value of $1 from 1851 to 2022

$1 in 1851 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $38.46 today, an increase of $37.46 over 171 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.16% per year between 1851 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,746.38%.

This means that today's prices are 38.46 times higher than average prices since 1851, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 2.600% of what it could buy back then.

The inflation rate in 1851 was -1.28%. The current inflation rate compared to last year is now 8.26%. If this number holds, $1 today will be equivalent in buying power to $1.08 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.


Inflation from 1851 to 2022
Cumulative price change3,746.38%
Average inflation rate2.16%
Converted amount ($1 base)$38.46
Price difference ($1 base)$37.46
CPI in 18517.700
CPI in 2022296.171
Inflation in 1851-1.28%
Inflation in 20228.26%
$1 in 1851$38.46 in 2022

USD inflation since 1851
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $1 in 1851

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $1 in 1851 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $1, you would need to end with $38.46 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $1 is equivalent to $38.46 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 1851 dollars, the chart below shows how $1 is worth less over 171 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: 1851-2022
YearDollar ValueInflation Rate
1851$1.00-1.28%
1852$1.000.00%
1853$1.000.00%
1854$1.099.09%
1855$1.133.57%
1856$1.10-2.30%
1857$1.132.35%
1858$1.06-5.75%
1859$1.081.22%
1860$1.080.00%
1861$1.146.02%
1862$1.3114.77%
1863$1.6424.75%
1864$2.0424.60%
1865$2.123.82%
1866$2.06-2.45%
1867$1.92-6.92%
1868$1.84-4.05%
1869$1.77-4.23%
1870$1.70-3.68%
1871$1.58-6.87%
1872$1.580.00%
1873$1.56-1.64%
1874$1.48-5.00%
1875$1.43-3.51%
1876$1.39-2.73%
1877$1.36-1.87%
1878$1.30-4.76%
1879$1.300.00%
1880$1.322.00%
1881$1.320.00%
1882$1.320.00%
1883$1.31-0.98%
1884$1.27-2.97%
1885$1.26-1.02%
1886$1.22-3.09%
1887$1.231.06%
1888$1.230.00%
1889$1.19-3.16%
1890$1.18-1.09%
1891$1.180.00%
1892$1.180.00%
1893$1.17-1.10%
1894$1.12-4.44%
1895$1.09-2.33%
1896$1.090.00%
1897$1.08-1.19%
1898$1.080.00%
1899$1.080.00%
1900$1.091.20%
1901$1.101.19%
1902$1.121.18%
1903$1.142.33%
1904$1.161.14%
1905$1.14-1.12%
1906$1.172.27%
1907$1.224.44%
1908$1.19-2.13%
1909$1.18-1.09%
1910$1.234.40%
1911$1.230.00%
1912$1.262.11%
1913$1.292.06%
1914$1.301.01%
1915$1.311.00%
1916$1.427.92%
1917$1.6617.43%
1918$1.9617.97%
1919$2.2514.57%
1920$2.6015.61%
1921$2.32-10.50%
1922$2.18-6.15%
1923$2.221.79%
1924$2.220.00%
1925$2.272.34%
1926$2.301.14%
1927$2.26-1.69%
1928$2.22-1.72%
1929$2.220.00%
1930$2.17-2.34%
1931$1.97-8.98%
1932$1.78-9.87%
1933$1.69-5.11%
1934$1.743.08%
1935$1.782.24%
1936$1.811.46%
1937$1.873.60%
1938$1.83-2.08%
1939$1.81-1.42%
1940$1.820.72%
1941$1.915.00%
1942$2.1210.88%
1943$2.256.13%
1944$2.291.73%
1945$2.342.27%
1946$2.538.33%
1947$2.9014.36%
1948$3.138.07%
1949$3.09-1.24%
1950$3.131.26%
1951$3.387.88%
1952$3.441.92%
1953$3.470.75%
1954$3.490.75%
1955$3.48-0.37%
1956$3.531.49%
1957$3.653.31%
1958$3.752.85%
1959$3.780.69%
1960$3.841.72%
1961$3.881.01%
1962$3.921.00%
1963$3.971.32%
1964$4.031.31%
1965$4.091.61%
1966$4.212.86%
1967$4.343.09%
1968$4.524.19%
1969$4.775.46%
1970$5.045.72%
1971$5.264.38%
1972$5.433.21%
1973$5.776.22%
1974$6.4011.04%
1975$6.999.13%
1976$7.395.76%
1977$7.876.50%
1978$8.477.59%
1979$9.4311.35%
1980$10.7013.50%
1981$11.8110.32%
1982$12.536.16%
1983$12.943.21%
1984$13.494.32%
1985$13.973.56%
1986$14.231.86%
1987$14.753.65%
1988$15.364.14%
1989$16.104.82%
1990$16.975.40%
1991$17.694.21%
1992$18.223.01%
1993$18.772.99%
1994$19.252.56%
1995$19.792.83%
1996$20.382.95%
1997$20.842.29%
1998$21.171.56%
1999$21.642.21%
2000$22.363.36%
2001$23.002.85%
2002$23.361.58%
2003$23.902.28%
2004$24.532.66%
2005$25.363.39%
2006$26.183.23%
2007$26.932.85%
2008$27.963.84%
2009$27.86-0.36%
2010$28.321.64%
2011$29.213.16%
2012$29.822.07%
2013$30.251.46%
2014$30.741.62%
2015$30.780.12%
2016$31.171.26%
2017$31.832.13%
2018$32.632.49%
2019$33.201.76%
2020$33.611.23%
2021$35.194.70%
2022$38.469.30%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 165 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1851 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 3,746.38% change in prices:

Conversion: 1851 dollars today
Initial valueEquivalent value
$1 dollar in 1851$38.46 dollars today
$5 dollars in 1851$192.32 dollars today
$10 dollars in 1851$384.64 dollars today
$50 dollars in 1851$1,923.19 dollars today
$100 dollars in 1851$3,846.38 dollars today
$500 dollars in 1851$19,231.88 dollars today
$1,000 dollars in 1851$38,463.77 dollars today
$5,000 dollars in 1851$192,318.83 dollars today
$10,000 dollars in 1851$384,637.66 dollars today
$50,000 dollars in 1851$1,923,188.31 dollars today
$100,000 dollars in 1851$3,846,376.62 dollars today
$500,000 dollars in 1851$19,231,883.12 dollars today
$1,000,000 dollars in 1851$38,463,766.23 dollars today

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1.00 in 1851 would be equivalent to £155.17 in 2022, an absolute change of £154.17 and a cumulative change of 15,416.73%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $37.46 and total percent change of 3,746.38%.


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 1851 and 2022.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.16% per year:

CategoryAvg Inflation (%)Total Inflation (%)$1 in 1851 → 2022
Food and beverages3.9878,419.57785.20
Housing4.21114,868.391,149.68
Apparel1.982,775.2928.75
Transportation3.4332,006.00321.06
Medical care4.68247,273.152,473.73
Recreation1.25734.208.34
Education and communication1.802,020.4521.20
Other goods and services4.96391,486.523,915.87

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 1851. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to calculate inflation rate for $1 since 1851

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1851 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1851
×
1851 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 7.7 in the year 1851 and 296.171 in 2022:

296.1717.7
×
$1
=
$38.46

$1 in 1851 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $38.46 in 2022.

To get the total inflation rate for the 171 years between 1851 and 2022, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2022 - CPI in 1851CPI in 1851
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (171 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

296.171 - 7.77.7
×
100
=
3,746%

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: “$1 in 1851 → 2022 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 2 Oct. 2022, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1851?amount=1.

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 1851 to 2022
Cumulative price change3,746.38%
Average inflation rate2.16%
Converted amount ($1 base)$38.46
Price difference ($1 base)$37.46
CPI in 18517.700
CPI in 2022296.171
Inflation in 1851-1.28%
Inflation in 20228.26%
$1 in 1851$38.46 in 2022