Friday, April 8, 2016

Cost of Living in the Old West, Part

Cost of Living in the 1800's, Part 2

Here is some more great information from Labor in Europe and America by Edward Young (1875). This time, we'll look specifically at the West Coast.

Wages paid in San Francisco and vicinity during the years 1869 and 1874
(prepared for this report by Mr. W.H. Martin, general agent
of the California Immigrant Union, January, 1875)

Apothecaries (per month, with board): $40-50
Bakers (per month, with board): $30-60
Barbers (per month): $60-80
Bar-Tenders (per month, with board): $40-45
Bed-makers (per month, with board): $25-35 ... I'm assuming this means actual manufacture of the bed-frame, not going to people's houses to make-up their beds, although I'd probably pay that much if someone would do it

Bell-hangers (per day): $2.50-3.50
Belt-makers (per day): $2.50-3.50
Blacksmiths (per day): $2.50-4.00
Blacksmiths' helpers (per day): $2.00-3.50
Boat-builders (per day):  $3.00-3.50
Boiler-makers (per day): $3.75-4.00
Book-binders (per day): $3.00-5.00
Book-binders' helpers, boys and girls (per week): $4.00-15.00 ... I guess we all know which end of the scale is for the boys and which is for the girls...

Book-keepers (per month): $35.00-200.00 ... quite a range, there ...
Book-keepers in banks and brokers' offices (per month): $200.00-350.00
Boot-blacks (per month): $30.00-45.00
Bottlers (per month): $35.00-40.00
Box-makers (per day): $2.50-3.00
Boys in offices and stores (per month): $10.00-40.00
Brick-layers (per day): $4.00-6.00
Brick-layers, foremen (per day): $6.00-8.00
Brick-makers (per month and found): $45.00-60.00
Brewers (per month, with board): $50.00-75.00
Broom-makers (per day): $2.50-3.50
Butchers (per month, with board): $35.00-75.00

Butter-makers (per month and found): $30.00-50.00
Carpenters (per day):
            house:                          $3.00-4.50
            house, foreman:          $4.50-6.00
            ship:                            $3.00-5.00
            ship, foreman:             $5.00-7.50

Cabinet-makers (per day): $3.00-4.00
Carriage-makers (per day)
            body-makers:              $3.00-4.00
            wheelwrights:              $3.00-4.00
            trimmers:                    $3.00-4.50
            painters:                      $2.50-4.00
            stripers:                       $2.50-4.00

Carvers (per day): $4.00-7.00 ... not sure exactly what they're supposed to be carving...
Caulkers (per day): $3.00-5.00
Chambermaids, in families (per month, with board): $15.00-20.00
Chambermaids, in hotels (per month, with board): 20.00-25.00
Charcoal-burners (per day): $2.00-3.50
Cheese-makers (per day): $2.00-3.00
Cigar-makers (per day): $1.50-3.00
Clerks (per month, with board): $40.00-75.00
Clothing manufacture (per week):
            head-cutters:               $34.37
            bushelmen:                  $21.87
            machine-operators:     $21.87
            finishers:                     $28.12
            laborers or packers:   $18.75
            apprentices or boys:    $10.00

Coachmen (per month, with board): $30.00-75.00
Conductors, horse-cars (per day): $2.50
Conductors, steam-cars (per day): $3.00-5.00
Cooks (per month, with board)
            general:                       $35.00-100.00
            private families:          $30.00-35.00
            in hotels:                      $40.00-100.00

Coopers (per day): $3.00-5.00
Confectioners (per day): $3.00-4.00
Coppersmiths (per day): $3.00-5.00
Coffin-makers: $2.50-4.50
Dairymen (per month, with board): $30.00-45.00

Deck-hands (per month, with board): $40.00-50.00
Door and sash makers (per day): $2.50-4.50
Dress-makers in stores (per week): $10.00-12.00
Dress-makers in families (per day, with board): $1.00-3.00
Drivers (per day):
            horse-cars:                  $2.50
            drays and trucks:        $2.50-3.00
            express:                       $2.00-3.00
            hacks:                          $2.00-3.50

Druggists (per month, with board): $60.00-75.00
Dyers (per month, with board): $40.00-60.00
Editors, first-class (per month): $200.00-250.00
Editors, second-class (per month): $75.00-100.00 ... how do you know if you're second-class, though?

Engravers (per day): $4.50-6.00
Engineers (per day):
            mills:                           $3.00-5.00
            railroads:                    $3.00-4.00
            steamships                  $3.00-3.50

Florists (per month, with board): $35.00-50.00
Foundry-men (per day):
            general:                       $2.00-4.50
            molders:                      $3.50-5.00
            stove-mounters:          $3.00-3.50
            brass:                          $3.00-4.00

Gardeners (per month, with board): $30.00-60.00
Gardeners, short jobs (per day): $2.50-3.00
Gas-fitters (per day): $3.50-4.50
Gilders (per day): $3.50-5.00
Glaziers (per day): $2.00-3.50
Gunsmiths (per day): $3.00-5.00
Harness-makers (per day): $2.50-5.00
Hatters (per day): $3.00-4.00
Hostlers (per month, with board): $30.00-40.00
Iron-foundry apprentices (per week): $4.00-10.00
Iron-foundry laborers (per week): $10.00-13.50
Iron-foundry machinists (per week):
            Best:                            $21.00-24.00
            Ordinary:                    $18.00-21.00
            Inferior:                       $15.00-18.00
            Helpers:                      $10.00-13.50

Iron-molders (per week): $18.00-24.00
Jewelers (per day): $3.50-4.00
Laundrymen (per month, with board): $30.00-45.00
Laundry-women (per month, with board): $30.00-40.00
Lithographers, draughtsman and engineers (per day): $4.00-5.00
Lithographers, printers (per day): $4.00-4.50
Locksmiths (per day): $3.00-4.00
Lumbermen (per month, with board): $30.00-70.00
Machinists (per day): $3.00-5.00
Masons (per day): $4.00-5.00
Masons, foremen (per day): $6.00-7.50
Millers (per day): $3.00-4.00
Milliners (per day): $1.50-3.50
Millwrights (per day): $3.00-5.00
Miners (per day): $2.00-4.00
Model or pattern makers (per day): $4.00-5.00
Nurses (per day): $1.00-2.00

Painters, house (per day): $2.50-4.00
Painters, ship (per day): $3.00-4.00
Paper-hangers (per day): $2.50-3.50
Piano-makers (per day): $4.00-4.50
Plasterers (per day): $4.00-6.00
Plumbers (per day): $3.50-5.00
Policemen (per month): $125.00
Porters (per month, with board): $30.00-55.00
Printers, job (per day): $3.50-4.00
Printers, foremen (per day): $4.50-5.00
Riggers (per day): $4.00-5.00
Riveters (per week): $18.00-21.00
Saddlers (per day): $3.00-5.00
Sail-makers (per day): $3.00-4.00
Sailors, long voyage (per month): $30.00-35.00
Sailors, coasters (per month): $40.00-45.00 ... you'd think they'd make more for long voyages, wouldn't you?

Salesmen (per day): $2.50-4.50
Sawyers (per month): $40.00-100.00
Servants, general housework (per month): $15.00-20.00
Shepherds (per month, with board): $25.00-35.00
Shipsmiths (per day): $3.00-4.00
Shoemakers (per day): $2.00-4.00
Soap-makers (per month, with board): $35.00-45.00
Stone-cutters (per day): $4.00-5.00
Straw-workers (per day): $1.50-3.00
Tailors (each):
            pants:                          $3.00-5.00
            vests:                           $2.00-3.50
            coats:                           $6.00-10.00

Teachers, full supply male and female from our own schools (per month): $45.00-200.00

Teamsters owning teams (per day): $2.50-4.00
Teamsters (per month): $30.00-50.00
Tinsmiths (per day): $2.50-4.00
Trunk-makers (per day): $2.50-4.00
Turners (per day): $3.50-4.00
Upholsterers (per day): $3.00-4.00
Vineyard-men (per month, with board): $30.00-40.00
Wagon-makers (per day): $3.00-4.00
Waiters (per month, with board): $20.00-40.00
Watch-makers (per day): $3.00-4.50
Watchmen (per month): $50.00-75.00
Whip-makers (per day): $3.00
Whitewashers (per day): $3.00
Wood-choppers (per month): $40.00-70.00

There is also a note at the bottom of this chart: "Young men of energy, not afraid of work, can almost always get employment in the country at from $25 to $30 per month."

J.E.S. Hays

for further information, please see:


  1. So facinating. We have resources here that show similar, but I've yet to really dig into them. Now you have me curious. Doris

    1. I love finding stuff like this online - such good material!

  2. Enjoying this so much ... great for my research file :-) Thanks for sharing.
    Nancy C

    1. I'm using a lot of this myself - glad to share!

  3. Interesting -- I'd even learn bookkeeping to work at a bank! For sure!!

  4. Excellent. This is very useful. Just the sort of information one needs. Thanks.

  5. I like to think I'd have made a fine charcoal burner.

    Thanks for the practical info.

  6. J.E.S.,

    I'll keep this one! Thanks.