Holy Roman Empire:Prices and Wages

From Marteau



With a "Quittung Yber 200 fl.", a receipt over 200 Reichs-Gulden, currency in Nürnberg — that's 133 Reichsthaler and 8 gute sächsische Groschen, or £ 15, or 53 pond Vlaams, 6 stuiver and 8 grooten, or 1117 Spanish Reals and 13 Marvedis in 1709. Quodlibet by Cornelius Biltius, 1684. (Bonn, Rheinsches Landesmuseum)


Agricultural Products and Food

  • Calf: 1 rthl., 1724. [Source Harro Vollmar, Häuser und Höfe: Horst]
  • Cow: 9 rthl., 1724. [Source Harro Vollmar, Häuser und Höfe: Horst]
  • Rye, 1 bushel (Saxon Scheffel = c.103 l): 21 gr. 6 pf. [Source Elias]
  • Beef or ham, 1 pound: 1 gr. 3 pf., 1699/1697 [Source Elias]
  • Beer, 1 quart: 6 pf., 1699 [Source Elias]
  • Butter, 1 tub (4 quarts = Faß): 4 gr. 9 pf., 1710 [Source Elias]
  • Eggs, 15: 3 gr. 3 pf. (1762) [Source Elias]
  • Milk, 1 quart: 5 pf., 1725 [Source Elias]
  • Veal, 1 pound: 1 gr. 2 pf., 1699) [Source Elias]
  • Wine, ordinary, 1 quart: 3 gr. 2 pf. [Source Elias]
  • Wine, better, 1 quart: 6 gr. [Source Elias]

Books & Prints

General Situations

  • Groningen: Close to the Dutch border the city does not have a bookshop since Amsterdam's booksellers have the financial power to ruin any new shop opening in the city. If a new applicant bookseller should demand 1 rthl. for a book like Lauterbach's Compendium iuris the Amsterdam booksellers would beat him with a price of 6 gl. [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.244]
  • Hamburg, St. Johannis and in the cathedral. Stolle notes: "Die Bücher sind hier theurer, als in Leipzig, sonderlich die französischen." - "Books are here more expensive than in Leipzig, especially those in French." [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.146]
  • See Olaf Simons, Eine Genealogie der Münchner »Buchhandels-Gerechtsamen« for a list of books sold by the bookseller and publisher Jäcklin in Munich, giving titles and prices in Gulden and Kreutzer.

Individual books

  • 6 dl. in Erfurt: Christianus Democritus [i.e. Johann Conrad Dippel (1673-1734)], Axioma Adami veteris perperam theologizantis detectum de discussum thesibus quibusdam succinctis theologicis (s.l., 1698), 4°, [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.1176]
  • 8 rthl.: Pierre Bayle, first edition of his Dictionnaire, [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.1118]
  • 8. rthl. sold by Maevius in Gotha: Gottfried Arnold, Ketzer-Historie (1699) (well equipped with old books) – the bookseller claims he himself had to pay 7 rthl. in Leipzig. [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.1166]

Printed Music

  • J.D. Heinichen, Der General-Baß in der Composition, 1728: 2 Rthl. (= 994 typeset pages) [source Wolff]
  • J.S. Bach, Clavier-Übung pt. 1, 1731: 2 Rthl. (= 37 engraved pages) [source Wolff]
  • J.S. Bach, Clavier-Übung pt. 3, 1739: 3 Rthl. (= 78 engraved pages) [source Wolff]
  • J.S. Bach, Musical Offering, 1747: 1 Rthl. (= 3 typeset, 26 engraved pages) [source Wolff]
  • J.S. Bach, Art of the fugue, 1751: 3 Rthl. (= 2 typsets, 67 engraved pages) [source Wolff]


  • Fortepiano: 115 Rthl. [source Wolff]
  • Harpsichord: 50-80 Rthl. [source Wolff]
  • Harpsichord, 1 month's rental from J.S. Bach: 1 Rthl. 8 gr. [source Wolff]
  • Lute: 100 Mark Lüb. Hamburg sold by Tielcken, 1710 [Uffenbach 2, p.89]
  • Lute: 21 Rthl. [source Wolff]
  • Spinet: 3 Rthl. [source Wolff]
  • Violin, by Jacobus Stainer: 8 Rthl. [source Wolff]
  • Violin, ordinary: 2 Rthl. [source Wolff]

Public Entertainments


  • Württenbergische Hof-Comoedianten in Kiel 1710 auf dem Rath-Hause: 1 Marck Lüb. the best places, 8 ß. average, 4 ß. cheapest. Source


Post Coaches

  • Eisenach—Gotha, 3 Meilen, 11-3¼ Uhr, 2 passengers, 5 rthl. [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.1162].
  • Gotha—Erfurt, 3 kleine Meilen, 8.-12 Uhr, "Extra Post", 2 passengers, 4 Rthl. [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.1176].
  • Marburg—Kassel, 9 Meilen, 2 passengers, coach with 3 horses (expensive) 8 Rthl. [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.1133/1143].


  • Gießen: Gottlieb Stolle gives [Report of his Journey 29.9.1703] the following data according to Immanuel Weber, Professor of History and Law in Gießen: "Vor 200 thal. könne hier ein Studiosus gar wohl auskommen, denn der theureste Tisch, da man tägl. 2 mahl speise, koste nicht mehr als 1½ Thal. Eine Stube 8-12 Thal. u. ein Klafter Holz 9-10 Kopfstücke. So gehe es auch sehr stille hier zu, und werde man nicht so zum debauchiren verführet, wie anderweits." ["A student can live decently in Gießen with about 200 Rthl. per year. The most expensive tables with two meals a day are at 1½ Rthl. per week, a room to rent at 8-10 Rthl. and a Klafter wood (about 3.1 m3) at 9-10 Kopfstücke (about 2 Rthl.), all which does make Gießen a quiet place, where little is spent on debauchery."]
  • Groningen [still German]: Compared with rivalling Dutch university cities a cheap place to live: The best table 40 stiuver [19 gl., 2 dl.] per week, room to rent the same. [Stolle, Journey (1703), 242]


Amtmann / civil servant small town

  • 160 Rthl. yearly income, 1724. [Source Harro Vollmar, Häuser und Höfe: Horst]


  • Compiling Dictionaries: The publisher Gledisch in Leipzig offered Christian Friedrich Hunold (Menantes)link the salary of 2½ Rthl. per quarto print sheet for the compilation of a poetical dictionary. The salary was, Gleditsch claimed, regular — the famous novelist refused. Source
  • Writing Novels: Christian Friedrich Hunold (Menantes) received an extraordinary salary of 2 Rthl. per octovo sheet from his publisher Liebernickel in Hamburg. Hunold must, hence, have made 154 Rthl. with the 1232 pages (or 77 sheets) of his Europäische Höfe in 1705link and 34 Rthl. with his 272 pages (17 sheets) of his Satyrischer Roman in 1706.link Source


  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz receives 400 Rthl. per year as Duke Anton Ulrich's Librarian - without actually serving at the library in Wolfenbüttel in 1703. - The position is rather a sinecure, with Leibniz serving on political missions. [Source: Stolle, Journey (1703), p.55]


  • The Hofkapelle of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, founded in 1701, payed 200 Rthl. for the Kapellmeister and 150 Rthl. for the musicians. Accomodation and meals were included. [Source: Meyer]
  • Johann Adalbert Fischer and Franz Adam Samm, horn players from Bohemia becoming members of the Dresdener Hofkapelle on 26 Feb. 1711, received 300 Rthl. per year raised to 320 Rthl. per year in 1719 (Fürstenau)
  • Fee for a year of study with J.S. Bach, including room and board, 1712: 100 Rthl.
  • Fee for a guest church organ performance by J.S. Bach, 1713 and 1717: 12 Rthl. (fee varied) [source Wolff]
  • J.S. Bach's annual salary (without benefits) as Kapellmeister at Cöthen, 1717: 400 Rthl. [source Wolff]
  • Hoffman and Pangratz, horn players, received 480 fl./ 320 Rthl. per year in Düsseldorf, 1718.
  • Anna Magdalena Bach's annual salary as a court singer at Cöthen, 1722 [source Wolff]
  • Cantor's fee for weddings and funerals in Leipzig, 1723: 1 Rthl. [Ordnung der Schule zu St. Thomae; source Wolff]
  • J.S. Bach's fee for maintaining the instruments belonging to the St Nicholas church in Leipzig, 1728: 8 Rthl. 3 gr. 6 pf. (fee varied) [source Wolff]
  • Honorarium paid to J.S. Bach for congratulatory cantatas, 1736 and 1738: 50 Rthl.[source Wolff]
  • J.S. Bach's fee for testing an organ, 1746: 22 Rthl. (fee varied) [source Wolff]
  • J.S. Bach's fee for a music lesson given to a nobleman,: 6 Rthl. [source Wolff]


  • Pagenstecher: teaching Law, Groningen, received the extraordinary sum of 800 Rthl. per annum (his predecessor received 600 Rthl.) [Stolle, Journey (1703), p.218].
  • Christian Thomasius: Immanuel Weber, professor in Gießen reported that Christian Thomasius got 200 Rthl. for a seminar he offered in Leipzig - charging his students with 4 Rthl. - which implies that he had the extraordinary audience of 50 students eager to take part in this seminar. ["Thomasius [...] als er zurück nach Leipzig kommen, habe er [...] auch bald Applausum kriegt, zumahl da er ein collegiam Grotiarum [1104] angeschlagen, welches in Leipzig damahls was unbekanntes gewest. Vor dieses collegium habe man ihn 200 rthlr zahlen müßen, welches er auch kriegt, und wären so viel Auditores gewesen, daß auch die Perso. 4 rthlr" - Stolle, Journey (1703), p.1103-04]

Servant or Day-Laborer

  • Barber: annual income 50 Rthl., 1772-29 [Source Elias]
  • Carpenter: 8 gr. in summer, 7 gr. in winter, 1725 [Source Elias]
  • Gravedigger: 7-8 gr. per grave, 1700-08 [Source Elias]
  • Maid (female child): 6 pf. per day, 1700 [Source Elias]
  • Maid (female adult): 1 gr. pf. per day, 1699 [Source Elias]


  • Helmstedt University: A relegation for two years can be prevented with a payment of 4 rthl. A Student who shot a boy was fined 300 rthl. The money is used to build a church. [Stolle Journey 1703, p.306]


  • Elias: M. J. Elias, Umriss einer Geschichte der Preise und Löhne in Deutschland vom ausgehenden Mittlelalter bis zum Beginn des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, vol. 2 (Leiden, 1940), cit. Christoph Wolff, Johann Sebastian Bach: the learned musician (New York/London, 2000) p. 539-40.
  • Uffenbach 1-3: C. Z. Uffenbach, Merckwürdige Reisen durch Niedersachsen, Holland und Engelland, 1.-3. Theil (Frankfurt/ Leipzig, 1753).
  • Wolff, Christoph, Johann Sebastian Bach: the learned musician (New York/London, 2000) p. 540-41.

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