Comparing Prices of Different Times

Published by mugen shiyo in the blog mugen shiyo's blog. Views: 113

I don't know why I get so obsessed on these types of details. One of the most troubling things I try to hunt down is a more-or-less structured comparison between the prices of two different ages (modern vs late medieval, specifically). After doing this for so long I'd just caution other writers not to follow this red herring. It's impossible. There can be no general comparison because things like the ease of production, the relative value of certain items back then, and the shifting demand for that item are a few of the things that would have determined the price. For instance, you can not compare the price of a horse from the medieval period to the price of a horse today. You cannot compare the knight (the medieval comparative of a mobile tank) to a modern tank today. The demand, the ease of procuring, raising, and training, and all these other things differs wildly.

The most effective way I found of determining a price comparison is not by looking at the prices themselves, necessarily, but the value. Compare the price of one thing to another thing in the same time period. The price of a horse compared to that of a hammer. The annual salary of George Washington compared to that of a merchant compared to that of the countries total revenue. By doing this and using a bit of reason and mental weighing you can sort of feel out the relative value of one thing and another in that time period. By knowing this, you can begin to reason out the wages of other professions. In the end, within reason, you determine the relative value of everything anyway so no use in looking for some formula to emulate.
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