Sunday, 4 October 2015

Over The Years I Have Heard Of Some Pretty Outrageous Bills,

would you pay $56 for 2 slices of buttered bread?

or a breakfast of bread, cheese, butter, sardines and two bottles of beer with a friend and receiving a bill for $1,200! but fantastic as it might seem these were the prices adjusted to take into account inflation that people were paying in the Californian Gold Rush of 1849, Bayard Taylor arrived in San Francisco by ship in the summer of 1849 and feared that nobody would believe him when he wrote about the Gold Rush economy in his dispatches for the New York Tribune, when the average wage for a laborer in New York might be one or two dollars a day, he was astounded to discover that individual hotel rooms were rented to professional gamblers for upwards of $10,000 a month, the equivalent today of about $300,000, Edward Gould Buffum (1820-1867), a New York journalist, came to California as an officer in the 7th Regiment of N.Y. Volunteers during the Mexican War, He stayed on to seek gold and edit a California newspaper before returning east to become Paris correspondent of the New York Herald, whilst in the gold fields he wrote Six Months in the Gold Mines, a fascinating read,

while some miners did strike it rich in the early days, those that made most money were the ones who 'mined the miners', imagine the joy of the woman who made $18,000 by baking and selling pies in the gold fields, or of the foresighted man who arrived in San Francisco in July 1849 with 1,500 old newspapers which he sold to miners, hungry for news from back east, for a dollar each, some of America’s best known businesspeople also began this way: Philip Armour was just 19 when he began selling meat to forty-niners in Placerville California (then called Hangtown); Levi Strauss, a Jewish emigrant from Germany, identified the need for tough clothing in the gold fields; Henry Wells and William Fargo made millions by setting up banking services in San Francisco; and John Studebaker’s automobile empire began with him making wheelbarrows for California miners, but back to looking at those prices, a couple of dollars for breakfast does not seem so bad now.

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