In my book, Money, Plain and Simple; What the Institutions and the Elite Don’t Want You to Know, I call attention to how the US coins transformed to fiat currency in 1965 (see chapter 7). As one who practices what they preach about gathering assets, I too have been slowly collecting pre-1965 US coins. Then, today, I received some Liberty Head “Barber” half dollar coins to my collection. I was truly in wonderment by the years that were embossed on each coin. The historic dates began to sink in. As I shared these with my wife, she too started to think of all the hands that these coins were held by and what they were used to buy that was almost 125 years ago! If you have never seen them, this is what they look like:
The minting run for this series was 1892-1915. This era then piqued my curiousity then of what things cost and what people earned during this period. Here is quick overview of what I found.
Before we get into this, let me help put things in perspective. If you took this coin to the store today, one could still spend it and it will only have 50 cents worth of purchasing power. Yet the coin is made up of 90% silver and has a precious metal value of $7 (spot price) in today’s market (0.36 ounce of silver per coin). This is what a true monetary system is …money that is backed by rare commodities.
In 1900, this half dollar would be worth $17.67 in 2022 dollars due to the devaluation of the US dollar. This means that the spending power it would have today is about one penny.
In 1900, the average American worked 59 hours a week and earned $12.98. This results in 22 cents per hour. So, this half dollar would represent over two hours of labor in the 1900s.
Also, in 1900, the rent of the average American home was $9.71 per month.
What do you think you could buy if you had a Liberty Head ‘Barber’ half dollar in the early 1900s?
This coin represents true money. It is backed by the silver that is used to make it. This was part of the fiscal restraint used to control inflation and support money for its three basic functions: 1. Be a medium of exchange, 2. Be a measure of value and 3. be a store of value.
If you like the coolness factor of owning some historic US silver coins, I have created a Plain and Simple web page of how and where to buy for yourself and get the best prices in the industry. Check it out here: https://moneyplainandsimple.com/?page_id=2098
Also, there is more about our currency and money in my book in English and Spanish. We also have the English version in audio for those of you that are on the go! Get your copy here: https://moneyplainandsimple.com/
Please feel free to share