Alcohol prices in Colonial Maryland

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Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55
Alcohol prices in Colonial Maryland

In the colony of Maryland, the prices of drinks at public inns were fixed by law. This past weekend, at St. Mary's City, I was able to get some of the prices that were charged. In 1669, the prices were listed in pounds of tobacco, and in 1671 and 1685 in shillings and pence. I figured this might be of interest to people doing setting in the Pike and Shot era of GoW.

The 1669 list:

Rum – 40 pounds tobacco per gallon
French brandy – 100 pounds tobacco per gallon
English spirits – 25 pounds tobacco per gallon
Bottle Dutch drams – 40 pounds tobacco per gallon
Perry, quince, or cider – 20 pounds tobacco per gallon
Muscovadore sugar – 8 pounds tobacco per gallon (this should probably be per pound)
Refined white sugar – 16 pounds tobacco per pound
(illegible entry)
Vinegar – 20 pounds tobacco per gallon
French wine – 40 pounds tobacco per gallon
Cannoies and (illegible) – 100 pounds tobacco per gallon (I believe these are regional wines- Cannois is wine from Cannes)
Madrera, Port, and other Portuguese wines – 60 pounds tobacco per gallon
Clarette – 40 pounds tobacco per gallon (modern claret)
Beer – 20 pounds tobacco per gallon (either foreign or domestic on this list)
Lodging – 4 pounds tobacco per night
“Dyett” – 10 pounds tobacco per meal

 

The 1671 list:

Brandy – ten shillings per gallon
Dutch drams – six shillings per gallon
English drams – ten shillings per gallon
Rum – six shillings per gallon
“Malago” (probably what would be Malaga sack today) – ten shillings per gallon
“all manner of Punch Wynes” - six shillings per gallon
Rhemish wine – six shillings per gallon
Any beer or ale made from local ingredients and brewed in Maryland – two shillings per gallon
Any beer or ale not completely locally made – one shilling and six pence per gallon
Cider – one shilling six pence per gallon
Minn (or mim or munn, it's not clear) – three shillings per gallon
Food – one shilling per meal
Lodging with bed – six pence per night
Muscovadore sugar – eight pence per pound

 

The 1685 list:

Madera wine – 80 pence per gallon
Pesacoda wine – 100 pence per gallon
Rum – 120 pence per gallon
Brandy – 120 pence per gallon
Canary wine – 200 pence per gallon
Mallagoe wine – 120 pence per gallon
Sherry, white wine, or claret – 80 pence per gallon
Spirits – 100 pence per gallon
Cider, perry, or quince – 20 pence per gallon
Sugar – 20 pence per pound
Bowl of punch with a quart of rum – 30 pence
Bowl of punch with quart of brandy – 40 pence
Beer – 20 pence per gallon

Air Jordan 4
jedavis
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Joined: 2012-03-08 01:21

Should probably be Rhenish rather than Rhemish wine ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheinhessen_(wine_region) )

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

That's a great list. Do you have any data on other price equivalents in that region? Wage of a day laborer and price of grain are typically my go-to values.

Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55

Not for Maryland, but in New York/New Amsterdam in 1666, wheat was 5 shillings per bushel, rye and peas 4 shillings, corn 3 shillings, and oats 2 shillings 6 pence. Pork was 4 pence per pound, beef 3 pence per pound.

For labor, in 1669, an agricultural laborer was paid 20 pounds of tobacco per day. The estimated value of a pound of tobacco is 1.5 pence, so they were paid 2 shillings 6 pence per day. This was a decline from 1655, when they were paid 20-25 pounds and it was valued at 2 pence per pound, making the daily pay 3 shillings 4 pence to 4 shillings 2 pence per day. The full data series is available in Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, Part 2, data series Z 551-556.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Great!

Original ACKS prices were based on the notion that 1 quarter of wheat (8 bushels) cost 3 shillings 4 pence, and that 1 pence = 1 sp; so 1 quarter of wheat cost (3 x 12 + 4) 40 pence, or 40sp, or 4gp; thus 1 bushel was 50cp or 5sp.

If, in 1666, 1 bushel of wheat is 5 shillings, and 1 bushel is 5sp in ACKS, then that gives a very nice conversion that 1 ACKS sp = 1 1666 shilling. 

Since its 12 shillings to the pound sterling, a gold piece is approximately 1 pound sterling.

Since its 24 pennies to the shilling, a penny is approximately 0.4 copper pieces. 

If 1lb of tobacco is 1.5 pence, and 1 pence is 0.4 copper pieces, 1lb of tobacco is 0.6cp.

Rum – 40 pounds tobacco per gallon = 24cp per gallon
French brandy – 100 pounds tobacco per gallon = 60cp per gallon
English spirits – 25 pounds tobacco per gallon = 15cp per gallon
French wine – 40 pounds tobacco per gallon = 24cp per gallon
Madrera, Port, and other Portuguese wines – 60 pounds tobacco per gallon = 36cp per gallon
Beer – 20 pounds tobacco per gallon = 12cp per gallon

1 gallon is 8 pints.

Rum - 3cp per pint
French brandy - 7.5cp per pint
English spirits - 2cp per pint
French wine - 3cp per pint
Madera - 4.5cp per pint
Beer - 1.5cp per pint

Current ACKS prices are:
Ale/beer (cheap) - 1cp for 3 pints [this is watered down "small beer"]
Ale/beer (good) - 2cp - slightly more than 1666 beer, slightly less than 1666 rum
Wine/spirits (cheap) - 2cp per pint - equivalent of English spirits
Wine/spirits (good) - 1sp per pint - equivalent of French brandy
Wine/spirits (raer) - 5sp per pint - not comparable

Fascinating!!!!

 

 

Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55

Should probably be Rhenish rather than Rhemish wine ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheinhessen_(wine_region) )

-jedavis

Not necessarily - Rhemish is a rarely-used word nowadays, but it refers to things from Reims, which is one of the major trading centers in the Champagne wine region.