While writing the Golden Age of Steam I found a lot of references that enabled me to create the equipment sections of the book and try to price things characters would need. You may already know about the Sear Roebuck and Montgomery Wards catalogs available in archives as well as reprints available on sites like Amazon. I am going to attempt to cite many of the other sources that have helped me along the way to pay forward the things I picked up in Steampunk groups and from colleagues in the TTRPG space. If nothing else it will help me to keep it all in one place.
Army and Navy Cooperative Society Catalogue 1883
Army and Navy Cooperative Society Price List 1885
Army and Navy Cooperative Society Price List 1887
For most of the 19th century, unless the UK or the US was at war, $5 was equal to £1
Excerpts from the Nineteenth Century, volume XXIII, 1888 edition January-June
How to live on £700 per year, a young family near Kensington Gardens pg239
Living on Thirty shillings a week (£78 per year), a family of seven pg 458
Life on a Guinea a week (£55 per year), a young clerk pg 464
Our Guinea a week clerk takes dinners at a vegetarian restaurant and aerated bread shop to keep his costs down
Alpha Vegetarian Restaurant menu from the following year
Aerated Bread Company menu from 1900 bears out our clerk’s story. The Aerated Bread Company opened its first tearoom in 1864 and was one of the first places women could eat a meal unescorted by a man.
Bob Cratchit was paid 15 shillings a week. The book came out in 1843. The average clerk in an accounting house was paid 11 shillings, 6 pence a week. Forty-five years later our young clerk with no family lives smartly off 40% more than Bob. The women at the ABC made at least 10 shillings a week and were provided a hot meal every day at nominal cost.
A Goldmine of Bureau of Labor Statistics links and references
Food History of the United States
Cost of a Wagon and provisions to make the Oregon Trail trip was about $600-800
1845 The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California by Lansford Hastings
1859 The Prairie Traveler by Randolph Barnes Marcy
Cost of 35 day Passage on a steamship from New York to San Francisco $90 in 1949
Cost of Passage on a Stage Coach from the Mississippi to California
Cost of an Emigrant Train ticket on the Transcontinental Railroad
Cost of Gold Prospectors tools and supplies in a mining camp like California, Klondike, Deadwood, Tombstone
The whole point of the above is not to tie your games to the westward expansion, but to mark the modes of travel and the amount of money a sane person needed to stake themselves before the trip. Less sane folks would take the same amount of money and use it less judiciously so we get gamblers and con men. People at the start of their careers might hope to put together a stake and settle somewhere.
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