$100 in 1838 → $2,548.57 in 2015

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U.S. Inflation Rate, $100 from 1838 to 2015

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, prices in 2015 are 2,448.57% higher than average prices since 1838. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 1.85% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $100 in 1838 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $2,548.57 in 2015, a difference of $2,448.57 over 177 years.

The 1838 inflation rate was -3.12%. The inflation rate in 2015 was 0.12%. The 2015 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 1.76% per year between 2015 and 2020.


Inflation from 1838 to 2015
Cumulative price change 2,448.57%
Average inflation rate 1.85%
Converted amount ($100 base) $2,548.57
Price difference ($100 base) $2,448.57
CPI in 1838 9.300
CPI in 2015 237.017
Inflation in 1838 -3.12%
Inflation in 2015 0.12%

USD Inflation since 1635
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $100 in 1838

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $100 in 1838 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $100, you would need to end with $2,548.57 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $100 is equivalent to $2,548.57 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.S. dollar decreases over time. In other words, a dollar will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a dollar over time. By calculating the value in 1838 dollars, the chart below shows how $100 buys less over the past 177 years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1838 $100.00 -3.12%
1839 $100.00 0.00%
1840 $93.55 -6.45%
1841 $93.55 0.00%
1842 $88.17 -5.75%
1843 $79.57 -9.76%
1844 $80.65 1.35%
1845 $81.72 1.33%
1846 $82.80 1.32%
1847 $88.17 6.49%
1848 $84.95 -3.66%
1849 $82.80 -2.53%
1850 $83.87 1.30%
1851 $82.80 -1.28%
1852 $82.80 0.00%
1853 $82.80 0.00%
1854 $90.32 9.09%
1855 $93.55 3.57%
1856 $91.40 -2.30%
1857 $93.55 2.35%
1858 $88.17 -5.75%
1859 $89.25 1.22%
1860 $89.25 0.00%
1861 $94.62 6.02%
1862 $108.60 14.77%
1863 $135.48 24.75%
1864 $168.82 24.60%
1865 $175.27 3.82%
1866 $170.97 -2.45%
1867 $159.14 -6.92%
1868 $152.69 -4.05%
1869 $146.24 -4.23%
1870 $140.86 -3.68%
1871 $131.18 -6.87%
1872 $131.18 0.00%
1873 $129.03 -1.64%
1874 $122.58 -5.00%
1875 $118.28 -3.51%
1876 $115.05 -2.73%
1877 $112.90 -1.87%
1878 $107.53 -4.76%
1879 $107.53 0.00%
1880 $109.68 2.00%
1881 $109.68 0.00%
1882 $109.68 0.00%
1883 $108.60 -0.98%
1884 $105.38 -2.97%
1885 $104.30 -1.02%
1886 $101.08 -3.09%
1887 $102.15 1.06%
1888 $102.15 0.00%
1889 $98.92 -3.16%
1890 $97.85 -1.09%
1891 $97.85 0.00%
1892 $97.85 0.00%
1893 $96.77 -1.10%
1894 $92.47 -4.44%
1895 $90.32 -2.33%
1896 $90.32 0.00%
1897 $89.25 -1.19%
1898 $89.25 0.00%
1899 $89.25 0.00%
1900 $90.32 1.20%
1901 $91.40 1.19%
1902 $92.47 1.18%
1903 $94.62 2.33%
1904 $95.70 1.14%
1905 $94.62 -1.12%
1906 $96.77 2.27%
1907 $101.08 4.44%
1908 $98.92 -2.13%
1909 $97.85 -1.09%
1910 $102.15 4.40%
1911 $102.15 0.00%
1912 $104.30 2.11%
1913 $106.45 2.06%
1914 $107.53 1.01%
1915 $108.60 1.00%
1916 $117.20 7.92%
1917 $137.63 17.43%
1918 $162.37 17.97%
1919 $186.02 14.57%
1920 $215.05 15.61%
1921 $192.47 -10.50%
1922 $180.65 -6.15%
1923 $183.87 1.79%
1924 $183.87 0.00%
1925 $188.17 2.34%
1926 $190.32 1.14%
1927 $187.10 -1.69%
1928 $183.87 -1.72%
1929 $183.87 0.00%
1930 $179.57 -2.34%
1931 $163.44 -8.98%
1932 $147.31 -9.87%
1933 $139.78 -5.11%
1934 $144.09 3.08%
1935 $147.31 2.24%
1936 $149.46 1.46%
1937 $154.84 3.60%
1938 $151.61 -2.08%
1939 $149.46 -1.42%
1940 $150.54 0.72%
1941 $158.06 5.00%
1942 $175.27 10.88%
1943 $186.02 6.13%
1944 $189.25 1.73%
1945 $193.55 2.27%
1946 $209.68 8.33%
1947 $239.78 14.36%
1948 $259.14 8.07%
1949 $255.91 -1.24%
1950 $259.14 1.26%
1951 $279.57 7.88%
1952 $284.95 1.92%
1953 $287.10 0.75%
1954 $289.25 0.75%
1955 $288.17 -0.37%
1956 $292.47 1.49%
1957 $302.15 3.31%
1958 $310.75 2.85%
1959 $312.90 0.69%
1960 $318.28 1.72%
1961 $321.51 1.01%
1962 $324.73 1.00%
1963 $329.03 1.32%
1964 $333.33 1.31%
1965 $338.71 1.61%
1966 $348.39 2.86%
1967 $359.14 3.09%
1968 $374.19 4.19%
1969 $394.62 5.46%
1970 $417.20 5.72%
1971 $435.48 4.38%
1972 $449.46 3.21%
1973 $477.42 6.22%
1974 $530.11 11.04%
1975 $578.49 9.13%
1976 $611.83 5.76%
1977 $651.61 6.50%
1978 $701.08 7.59%
1979 $780.65 11.35%
1980 $886.02 13.50%
1981 $977.42 10.32%
1982 $1,037.63 6.16%
1983 $1,070.97 3.21%
1984 $1,117.20 4.32%
1985 $1,156.99 3.56%
1986 $1,178.49 1.86%
1987 $1,221.51 3.65%
1988 $1,272.04 4.14%
1989 $1,333.33 4.82%
1990 $1,405.38 5.40%
1991 $1,464.52 4.21%
1992 $1,508.60 3.01%
1993 $1,553.76 2.99%
1994 $1,593.55 2.56%
1995 $1,638.71 2.83%
1996 $1,687.10 2.95%
1997 $1,725.81 2.29%
1998 $1,752.69 1.56%
1999 $1,791.40 2.21%
2000 $1,851.61 3.36%
2001 $1,904.30 2.85%
2002 $1,934.41 1.58%
2003 $1,978.49 2.28%
2004 $2,031.18 2.66%
2005 $2,100.00 3.39%
2006 $2,167.74 3.23%
2007 $2,229.48 2.85%
2008 $2,315.09 3.84%
2009 $2,306.85 -0.36%
2010 $2,344.69 1.64%
2011 $2,418.70 3.16%
2012 $2,468.75 2.07%
2013 $2,504.91 1.46%
2014 $2,545.55 1.62%
2015 $2,548.57 0.12%
2016 $2,580.72 1.26%
2017 $2,635.70 2.13%
2018 $2,701.40 2.49%
2019 $2,749.01 1.76%
2020 $2,781.48 1.18%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
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Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £100.00 in 1838 would be equivalent to £10,000.00 in 2015, an absolute change of £9,900.00 and a cumulative change of 9,900.00%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $2,448.57 and total percent change of 2,448.57%.


Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1838 and 2015.

Compare these values to the overall average of 1.85% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $100 in 1838 → 2015
Food and beverages 4.15 134,310.08 134,410.08
Housing 4.35 188,454.37 188,554.37
Apparel 2.11 3,958.39 4,058.39
Transportation 3.36 34,342.61 34,442.61
Medical care 5.28 895,916.36 896,016.36
Recreation 1.12 612.06 712.06
Education and communication 2.20 4,633.43 4,733.43
Other goods and services 5.28 905,343.95 905,443.95

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1838. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $100, 1838 to 2015

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2015CPI in 1838
×
1838 USD value
=
2015 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 9.3 in the year 1838 and 237.017 in 2015:

237.0179.3
×
$100
=
$2,548.57

$100 in 1838 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $2,548.57 in 2015.

To get the total inflation rate for the 177 years between 1838 and 2015, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2015 - CPI in 1838CPI in 1838
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (177 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

237.017 - 9.39.3
×
100
=
2,449%

News headlines from 1838

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

  • Samuel Morse sends the first telegraph message to Alfred Vail, in a public demonstration of the machine.
  • Queen Victoria's is crowned in Westminster Abbey.
  • Huskar Colliery Mining Disaster occurs in England, resulting in 26 children losing their lives. This leads to the "Mines and Collieries Act" which banned underground work for women and children.

Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1665 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “1838 dollars in 2015 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 2 Apr. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/1838-dollars-in-2015.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.

in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.


Ian Webster

About the author

Ian Webster is an engineer and data expert based in San Mateo, California. He has worked for Google, NASA, and consulted for governments around the world on data pipelines and data analysis. Disappointed by the lack of clear resources on the impacts of inflation on economic indicators, Ian believes this website serves as a valuable public tool. Ian earned his degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College.

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» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1838 to 2015
Cumulative price change 2,448.57%
Average inflation rate 1.85%
Converted amount ($100 base) $2,548.57
Price difference ($100 base) $2,448.57
CPI in 1838 9.300
CPI in 2015 237.017
Inflation in 1838 -3.12%
Inflation in 2015 0.12%