Monetary Equivalencies Between 1811 and Today

Compiled by Anne Flinders, dramaturg

Bank of England Jane Austen £10 note, 2013; part of the 200-year anniversary of the publishing of Pride and Prejudice.

Bank of England Jane Austen £10 note, 2013; part of the 200-year anniversary
of the publishing of Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice has a lot to say about money (or at least Mrs. Bennet does). Goods tended to be much dearer in the early 1800s, while labor was much cheaper. And people didn’t buy as much in terms of sheer quantity in 1811 as we do today. They spent much more than we do on individual pieces of clothing, shoes, hats, furnishings, transportation, etc., but acquired fewer goods and services for their spending. Items were more difficult to make and services required more time; a lot of items we buy for very few dollars today at a “Superstore” were still made by hand during this era. The Georgians were paying for quality over quantity. Here is a little chart to clarify the value of money then and now.

Contemporary value: the amount of money discussed in the play in British pounds, 1810 (closest reasonable estimate)

Current retail purchasing power: spending power; one can buy a quantity of goods worth this current amount.

Average equivalent earnings: what we would say is the amount of money being referred to.

 Character or Estate

Contemporary value

£’s Current retail purchasing power

$’s Current retail purchasing power

£’s Average equivalent earnings

$’s Average equivalent earnings

Mr. Bennet’s yearly income

£2000

£113,000

$180,987

£1,480,000

$2,370,442

Mr. Bingley’s yearly income

£5,000

£277,000

$443,657

£3,700,000

$5,926,105

Mr. Darcy’s yearly income

£10,000

£553,000

$885,232

£7,700,000

$12,331,366

The Bennet Girls’ dowries

£1000

£55,300

$88,569

£740,000

$1,185,195

Mrs. Bennet’s dowry

£4000

£221,000

$353,964

£2,960,000

$4,740,884

Caroline Bingley’s dowry

£20,000

£1,200,000

$1,921,980

£15,400,000

$24,665,410

Georgiana Darcy’s dowry

£30,000

£1,800,000

$2,882,970

£23,100,000

$36,998,115

A fireplace at Rosings Park

£800

£48,100

$77,039

£616,000

$986,616

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One Response to Monetary Equivalencies Between 1811 and Today

  1. Pingback: Married to Money: Dowries in Victorian England | BYU presents PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

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