Appendix B: A Note on Prices
Note: The prices in the following material is taken from the Waverly Thomas Ledgers, 1814-1824 (2 volumes), located in ViU:Perkins Papers. The ledgers contain extensive accounts with numerous patrons for whiskey, brandy, and other merchandise, farm and mill products, lumber, and blacksmithing.
Prices for goods and services varied considerably in central Virginia during the second and third decades of the nineteenth century. In 1818 a pine tree could be bought for $1, seven for $5, and twenty trees for $10, and a thousand feet of sawing cost from $7.50 to $9. Plank, usually ranging from 8 to 22 feet in length, could be commonly purchased in varying degrees of thicknesses of one, two, three, four inches and etc., and in varying widths from six to twenty-six inches. Two sills 28 feet long and 8 by 10 inches thick and wide cost $3.36. Firewood could be purchased for $2 a cord.
In 1820 a slave could be rented for 3 months to make brick at $8 per month. At $4.50 per thousand, 6,000 bricks cost $27; 10,000 bricks $45. Hauling 4 loads of brick cost a buck; 16 loads cost $3; 24 loads $4.50. The brick work for a small creek mill cost $40 and the pulling down of a brick chimney cost $2.
A day-laborer working in 1821 could expect to earn 50 cents a day for carting plank and working about a building site, or 75 cents a day for dressing a mill; 13½ days work in 1823 could gross $3.37. Two slaves could take two weeks to saw 1,000 feet of lumber, for which their master could collect $9 from the buyer. An overseer working on a road could make $8 in as many days in 1819; trimming trees for a whole day could earn a laborer 75 cents. In the spring of 1820, when the effects of the Panic of 1819 were in full force, 3 days work on a cedar press could earn its maker $1.87; 12 days labor lathing a house, $7.50; 4½ days labor building and repairing gates, $2.87; and 4 days working on a log house at a new mill, $2.50. To haul a load of fish from Broadwater to Charlottesville would earn the wagoner 75 cents.
One thousand five-eights-inch-thick shingles cost $3.50 in 1821; 2 pounds of spike nails could be had for 33 cents; 50 pounds of 6 or 9 penny common nails cost 32 cents in 1820; 2 pair of hinges using 5 pounds of iron cost $1.22. Throughout the period a blacksmith would charge for laying a carpenter adze 87 cents; a carpenter's axe $1.25. A 2 pound broad axe cost $1.12 and a narrow axe anywhere from 87 cents to $1.64. A hatchet cost 84 cents; puting a shank to a drawing knife cost 26½ cents and a shank in an auger half that much; making a turning-lay was only $1. It cost 12½ cents to rivet a saw, 18¾ cents to put a handle to a cross cut saw; and $1.12 to replace the upper handle of a pit saw. A old well-worn axe sold for 48 cents; one old whit saw for $1.93.
By contrast a fully-made adult coffin for a man or a woman in late 1818 and early 1819 cost only $5 each; an infant's coffin cost only a dollar. In 1820 and 1821 the price of coffins had fallen to between $4 and $4.50, and the cost of a coffin and the digging of the grave was $6. In 1820 an entire bridge could be built for $30, and a quart of whiskey cost 20 cents.