Costs Compared

For this comparison, I chose the years 1800 and 2003. Thus, one British pound in 1800 is the equivalent of $66.39 today. With 20 shillings to the pound (66.39/20) one 1800 shilling is the 2003 equivalent of $3.32 US. The one shilling part is important because most of the prices for historical items are not expressed in pounds, but in shillings.

British Pounds to Dollars

The actual formula for converting historical pounds to US dollars is pretty complicated, unless you happen to be an economist. Suffice it to say an economist has done the hard work. The formula is based on a number of Consumer Price Indices. Anyway, another economist has posted a web site where you can plug in the historical year, plug in the modern year and presto - a conversion rate appears. The page requires Windows XP extensions and here's the link if the material below doesn't suit your needs:

How Much Is It?

So, if you have an income of say, 10,000 pounds a year, that would be $663,900 per year today. Mr. Darcy was sitting pretty. And Mr. Bingham didn't do to badly, either.

How Much Did it Cost?

The October 7, 1802 issue of The Times has an ad for "Fashionable Clothes, Cheap and good, from Knight's Warehouse, 421 Strand, third house from Bedford Street toward the city. (rounded up) In the Brit column it's Pounds.Shillings.

Item From £ To £ From $ To $
Best Plain Superfine coat, fashionable 2.16 2.18 $186 $193
Beaver Great Coats 1.8 2.10 $93 $166
Toilinet or Marcella Waistcoat 0.16 0.19 $53 $63
Cloth Pantaloons, real fine and good 0.18 1.6 $60 $86
Best Superfine Grey or Blue ditto 1.7 1.9 $90 $96
Best Cashmere Breeches 1.0 1.2 $66 $69
Best Superfine Cord or Velveteen 0.19 1.3 $63 $76

The rest of the ad reads as follows:
Knight has just finished an assortment of Worsted Stockings and Cloth Pantaloons, Nankeen and Cotton trowsers, Cord and Velveteen riding breeches, Cassimere, Stocking and rich Silk Breeches, Marcella, Toilinett, and rich Silk Waistcoats, Greatcoats, Traveling and Box Coats, &c

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