Great Britain:Prices and Wages

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see also Money (Great Britain)



Consumer Price Index (red), average nominal earnings (black) and real earnings (depending on the changing price level), 1600-1900 (1700=100). Source: Lawrence H. Officer, "What Were the U.K. Earnings Rate and Consumer Price Index Then?" Economic History Services, February 2004, link Detail view 1680-1730


Books & Prints

Polite Literature / Belles Lettres

  • 2 d.: 8 pages, Key to the Memoirs of Count Grammont (1715).
  • 3 d.: political treatise 24 pages, 8°.
  • 6 d.: 40-50 pages, 8° or 12°.
  • 1 s.: regular price of politcal fictions whether 256 pages 8° as in the case of the History of Prince Mirabel (1712) or shorter like the first volume of Queen Zarah (1705), with 120 pages.
  • 1 s. 6 d.: small novels, 112-144 pages, that is 9 sheets 8° or 6 sheets 12°.
  • 2 s.: 200 pages plus frontispiece, fashionable books can, however, be that expensive while offering much less: the second volume of Eliza Haywood's Love in Excess (1719), 111 pages for instance.
  • 3 s.: novels of about 300 pages.
  • 3 s. 6 d.: a novel with frontispiece, also (appearing in its first yet spectacular volume without the frontispiece) Delarivier Manley's Atalantis (1709), 246 pages, 8°.
  • 5 s.: Heliodorus' Theagenes und Chariclia
  • 6 s.: Fenelon's Telemachus published in 1715 with frontispiece, classics of 600 to 800 pages.


  • ½ guinea: "The Cries of London" 70 prints - as Uffenbach regrets: not the series with notes for the violin. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.218]

Library fees

Oxford: Bodleian

  • 8 s. Uffenbach, a learned tourist from Frankfurt, payed this ammount in 1710 to see books. The sub-librarian needed another guinea to show manuscripts of Uffenbach's choice - regular visitors get single books, Uffenbach, however, was interested in codices as such and tried to check what materials the library actually had... [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.87]

Chemicals etc.

  • Emery: To be used by an optician. London, at the sign of the sugar loaf in Salisbury court: 1 pound of better quality called "flower". 2 s. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.223]
  • Lapp: Cloth nearly an inch thick used by an optician to polish glass. London, at the sign of the sugar loaf in Salisbury court: 1 ell. 6 s. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.223]
  • Zinc Oxide Putty: To be used by an optician for grinding glass. London, at the sign of the sugar loaf in Salisbury court: 1 pound of better quality 2 s. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.222-23]



  • London, Gras Inn, a round wooden house: An entertainment where classes mix. Arsitocrats can bet up to 20 guineas on a cock, and loose their money to mean labourers. The cocks have rich owners. Regular bets: a few shillings per fight. Those who cannot pay their bets, are - to the laughter of the audience - put into a cage and held in the air. [1710: Uffenbach 2, p.478-80]


  • Greenwich: Seats 1 s. gallery, 1 s. 6 d. pit, 2 s. 6 d. box.


  • With singers and small orchestra in Southwark: 1 s. 6 d., more expensive: Stationer's Hall: 2 s. 6 d., more prestigeous: York Buildings: 5 s.

Fistfight of boatsmen

  • Harwich - no official entertainment. Noble passengers waiting for better weather to travel to the Netherlands offer two idle boatsmen a crown for a fight to be performed at the pleasure of those waiting. The boatsmen wearing breeches only do not use weapons, the ordeal is quite a bloody anyway and heated up with a shilling thrown into the scene every now and then. Allegedly quite a regular entertainment. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.255]


Etarco, 31 Jan. 1711: loge: 8 s., pit: 5 s., first gallery: 2 s. 6 d. upper gallery: 1 s. 6 d., half a guinea: proscenium. Glamorous events are more expensive: the opening of Il Amadigi, 25 May 1715 twice as much for the cheapest seats. The opears booklet: 1 s. 6 d. Puppet Theatre

Powel's satirical theatre

opening in 1710-11 in London, loge: 2 s., pit: 1 s., gallery 6 d.


A guinea per night for casual encounters with women of style. A longstanding mistress [Gottlieb Stolle reports in his travelogue (1703), p.617-621] begins her career with 17 or 19 years receiving £ 200 per year and an additional rate of £ 1,000 to "stabilise" her in the end of the affair.


  • London, at Bear Garden in Hockley Hole: The event begins with four men beating each other with sticks and fighting for the money thrown onto the stage - shillings or half crowns, if the audience is generous and wants to see the battle intensify. The main event is a fight with changing weapons - swords and daggers - which can inflict in serious wounds. Two thirds of the money (shillings and crowns, thrown into the ring and collected by the seconds) go to the winner, one third to the looser. The event ends with a crowd of boys fighting on the stage for more then an hour for every piece of money they can catch. Among the audience: men and women. [1710: Uffenbach 2, p.532-36]


  • £3 18s 11.00d per standard ounce in 1718, £3 18s 5.61d ten years later - the price did not change very much over the preceeding decades. Lawrence H. Officer offers the price per fine ounce decimalised: it was about £4.450 after 1696, around £4.349 in the first decade, £4.305 in 1718, £4.280 in 1728. See the following page for detailed information.


  • Barometer: London, Patrick's shop, an instrument with mercury, cheapest version 2 guineas, top model 15 guineas [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.192]
  • Moreland's Arithmetic Instrument: London, Rohly's shop: The instrument is described in a book on the subject published in 1679 the instrument itself has to be produced on demand. 5 guineas. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.223]
  • Ruling Pen: London, Coolpepper's shop, ½ Crown [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.192]
  • Shortsight Glass to be used at the Comedy: London, Coolpepper's shop, 6 s. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.192]
  • Telescope: With extensible tubes and five lenses. London, Praun's shop, 1 guinea. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.230]
  • Watches: London, Christoph Holsom's shop: An instrument to be joined with your own watch in order to produce an alarm clock. 12 s. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.219-20]
  • Watchmaker's Instruments: An Instrument to cut the fusee. London, Pardin's shop: 2 guineas. [1710: Uffenbach 3, p.226]


  • Gold Beater Skin: The skin of a lamb's bladder, used by gold beaters to beat gold leafs. Supposedly a superb plaster preventing wounds from festering. 3 d. per leaf.



  • Harwich-London: 5 guineas: 4-horse-coach for 6 passengers (or 3 passengers and three bigger pieces of baggage) arriving from the Netherlands and travelling to London. [1710, Uffenbach 2, p.433]
  • London: 1 s. to 1 s. 6 d. one of the 700 London Hackney Coaches from the fringes into the center.



If prices (red) rise yet wages (black) do not rise proportionally, the real earnings (the thin blue line) drop. Green boxes: the Nine Years War (1688-97) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1710 with the treaty of Utrecht officially ending that war in 1712). — The blue line of rising prosperity has a peak with the Glorious Revolution in 1688, it falls with the Nine Years War, rises again between the two wars and it drops again after 1706. Clearly visible: the downturn of 1708 and 1709, the years before the war administration lost the elections. — Source: Lawrence H. Officer, "What Were the U.K. Earnings Rate and Consumer Price Index Then?" Economic History Services, February 2004 link Data on this diagram normalised: 1700=100. Full picture and all data

Skilled in Building Trades


Clerks (exc. govt.)

Skilled in Engineering

Engineers, Surveyors

Government low-wage

Government high-wage


  • Mr. Lamorale Henry, assisting German travellers. He served Uffenbach from June 8 to Nov. 10 1710 for ½ Rthl. (2 s, 3 d.) a day, i.e. &pound17, 8 s, 9 d. for the complete period of 155 days. [1710, Uffenbach 3, p.254]

Agricultural Labourers

Day Labourers

  • 16 to 18 pence a day - Mandeville, An Essay on Charity and Charity-Schools

General Labourers

Messengers, Porters (exc. govt.)



  • A politician's Mistress receives gifts rather than payment. A guinea per night for casual encounters. A longstanding relationship [Gottlieb Stolle reports in his travelogue (1703), p.617-621] begins her career with 17 or 19 years receiving £ 200 per year and an additional rate of £ 1,000 "stabilising" her in the end of the affair.

Police, Guards, Watchmen


See also Mistresses

Skilled in Printing Trades


Skilled in Shipbuilding

Solicitors and Barristers

Surgeons, Medical Officers


Skilled in Textiles


  • Uffenbach 1-3: C. Z. Uffenbach, Merckwürdige Reisen durch Niedersachsen, Holland und Engelland, 1.-3. Theil (Frankfurt/ Leipzig, 1753/ Ulm, 1754).


  • Langford, Paul, Public Life and the Propertied Englishman, 1689-1978 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).
  • Williamson, Jeffrey G., "The Structure of Pay in Britain, 1710-1911", Research in Economic History, 7 (1982), 1-54.
  • Deane, Phyllis/ Cole, W. A., British Economic Growth, 1688-1959: Trends and Structure [first edition 1962] (Cambridge: University Press, 1967), xx + 350 pp. Review by Knick Harley, EHNet

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