$500 in 1850 is worth $15,193.40 in 2015

Value of $500 from 1850 to 2015

$500 in 1850 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $15,193.40 in 2015, an increase of $14,693.40 over 165 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.09% per year between 1850 and 2015, producing a cumulative price increase of 2,938.68%.

This means that prices in 2015 are 30.39 times higher than average prices since 1850, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index.

The inflation rate in 1850 was 1.30%. The inflation rate in 2015 was 0.12%. The 2015 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 3.04% per year between 2015 and 2022.


Inflation from 1850 to 2015
Cumulative price change 2,938.68%
Average inflation rate 2.09%
Converted amount ($500 base) $15,193.40
Price difference ($500 base) $14,693.40
CPI in 1850 7.800
CPI in 2015 237.017
Inflation in 1850 1.30%
Inflation in 2015 0.12%
$500 in 1850 $15,193.40 in 2015

USD inflation since 1850
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $500 in 1850

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $500 in 1850 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $500, you would need to end with $15,193.40 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $500 is equivalent to $15,193.40 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 1850 dollars, the chart below shows how $500 is worth less over 165 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:

Dollar inflation: 1850-2015
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1850 $500.00 1.30%
1851 $493.59 -1.28%
1852 $493.59 0.00%
1853 $493.59 0.00%
1854 $538.46 9.09%
1855 $557.69 3.57%
1856 $544.87 -2.30%
1857 $557.69 2.35%
1858 $525.64 -5.75%
1859 $532.05 1.22%
1860 $532.05 0.00%
1861 $564.10 6.02%
1862 $647.44 14.77%
1863 $807.69 24.75%
1864 $1,006.41 24.60%
1865 $1,044.87 3.82%
1866 $1,019.23 -2.45%
1867 $948.72 -6.92%
1868 $910.26 -4.05%
1869 $871.79 -4.23%
1870 $839.74 -3.68%
1871 $782.05 -6.87%
1872 $782.05 0.00%
1873 $769.23 -1.64%
1874 $730.77 -5.00%
1875 $705.13 -3.51%
1876 $685.90 -2.73%
1877 $673.08 -1.87%
1878 $641.03 -4.76%
1879 $641.03 0.00%
1880 $653.85 2.00%
1881 $653.85 0.00%
1882 $653.85 0.00%
1883 $647.44 -0.98%
1884 $628.21 -2.97%
1885 $621.79 -1.02%
1886 $602.56 -3.09%
1887 $608.97 1.06%
1888 $608.97 0.00%
1889 $589.74 -3.16%
1890 $583.33 -1.09%
1891 $583.33 0.00%
1892 $583.33 0.00%
1893 $576.92 -1.10%
1894 $551.28 -4.44%
1895 $538.46 -2.33%
1896 $538.46 0.00%
1897 $532.05 -1.19%
1898 $532.05 0.00%
1899 $532.05 0.00%
1900 $538.46 1.20%
1901 $544.87 1.19%
1902 $551.28 1.18%
1903 $564.10 2.33%
1904 $570.51 1.14%
1905 $564.10 -1.12%
1906 $576.92 2.27%
1907 $602.56 4.44%
1908 $589.74 -2.13%
1909 $583.33 -1.09%
1910 $608.97 4.40%
1911 $608.97 0.00%
1912 $621.79 2.11%
1913 $634.62 2.06%
1914 $641.03 1.01%
1915 $647.44 1.00%
1916 $698.72 7.92%
1917 $820.51 17.43%
1918 $967.95 17.97%
1919 $1,108.97 14.57%
1920 $1,282.05 15.61%
1921 $1,147.44 -10.50%
1922 $1,076.92 -6.15%
1923 $1,096.15 1.79%
1924 $1,096.15 0.00%
1925 $1,121.79 2.34%
1926 $1,134.62 1.14%
1927 $1,115.38 -1.69%
1928 $1,096.15 -1.72%
1929 $1,096.15 0.00%
1930 $1,070.51 -2.34%
1931 $974.36 -8.98%
1932 $878.21 -9.87%
1933 $833.33 -5.11%
1934 $858.97 3.08%
1935 $878.21 2.24%
1936 $891.03 1.46%
1937 $923.08 3.60%
1938 $903.85 -2.08%
1939 $891.03 -1.42%
1940 $897.44 0.72%
1941 $942.31 5.00%
1942 $1,044.87 10.88%
1943 $1,108.97 6.13%
1944 $1,128.21 1.73%
1945 $1,153.85 2.27%
1946 $1,250.00 8.33%
1947 $1,429.49 14.36%
1948 $1,544.87 8.07%
1949 $1,525.64 -1.24%
1950 $1,544.87 1.26%
1951 $1,666.67 7.88%
1952 $1,698.72 1.92%
1953 $1,711.54 0.75%
1954 $1,724.36 0.75%
1955 $1,717.95 -0.37%
1956 $1,743.59 1.49%
1957 $1,801.28 3.31%
1958 $1,852.56 2.85%
1959 $1,865.38 0.69%
1960 $1,897.44 1.72%
1961 $1,916.67 1.01%
1962 $1,935.90 1.00%
1963 $1,961.54 1.32%
1964 $1,987.18 1.31%
1965 $2,019.23 1.61%
1966 $2,076.92 2.86%
1967 $2,141.03 3.09%
1968 $2,230.77 4.19%
1969 $2,352.56 5.46%
1970 $2,487.18 5.72%
1971 $2,596.15 4.38%
1972 $2,679.49 3.21%
1973 $2,846.15 6.22%
1974 $3,160.26 11.04%
1975 $3,448.72 9.13%
1976 $3,647.44 5.76%
1977 $3,884.62 6.50%
1978 $4,179.49 7.59%
1979 $4,653.85 11.35%
1980 $5,282.05 13.50%
1981 $5,826.92 10.32%
1982 $6,185.90 6.16%
1983 $6,384.62 3.21%
1984 $6,660.26 4.32%
1985 $6,897.44 3.56%
1986 $7,025.64 1.86%
1987 $7,282.05 3.65%
1988 $7,583.33 4.14%
1989 $7,948.72 4.82%
1990 $8,378.21 5.40%
1991 $8,730.77 4.21%
1992 $8,993.59 3.01%
1993 $9,262.82 2.99%
1994 $9,500.00 2.56%
1995 $9,769.23 2.83%
1996 $10,057.69 2.95%
1997 $10,288.46 2.29%
1998 $10,448.72 1.56%
1999 $10,679.49 2.21%
2000 $11,038.46 3.36%
2001 $11,352.56 2.85%
2002 $11,532.05 1.58%
2003 $11,794.87 2.28%
2004 $12,108.97 2.66%
2005 $12,519.23 3.39%
2006 $12,923.08 3.23%
2007 $13,291.15 2.85%
2008 $13,801.47 3.84%
2009 $13,752.37 -0.36%
2010 $13,977.95 1.64%
2011 $14,419.17 3.16%
2012 $14,717.56 2.07%
2013 $14,933.14 1.46%
2014 $15,175.38 1.62%
2015 $15,193.40 0.12%
2016 $15,385.06 1.26%
2017 $15,712.82 2.13%
2018 $16,104.49 2.49%
2019 $16,388.30 1.76%
2020 $16,590.49 1.23%
2021 $17,369.88 4.70%
2022 $18,736.92 7.87%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 159 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1850 amounts in 2015 dollars, based on the 2,938.68% change in prices:

Conversion: 1850 dollars in 2015
Initial value Equivalent value
$1 dollar in 1850 $30.39 dollars in 2015
$5 dollars in 1850 $151.93 dollars in 2015
$10 dollars in 1850 $303.87 dollars in 2015
$50 dollars in 1850 $1,519.34 dollars in 2015
$100 dollars in 1850 $3,038.68 dollars in 2015
$500 dollars in 1850 $15,193.40 dollars in 2015
$1,000 dollars in 1850 $30,386.79 dollars in 2015
$5,000 dollars in 1850 $151,933.97 dollars in 2015
$10,000 dollars in 1850 $303,867.95 dollars in 2015
$50,000 dollars in 1850 $1,519,339.74 dollars in 2015
$100,000 dollars in 1850 $3,038,679.49 dollars in 2015
$500,000 dollars in 1850 $15,193,397.44 dollars in 2015
$1,000,000 dollars in 1850 $30,386,794.87 dollars in 2015

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £500.00 in 1850 would be equivalent to £60,714.29 in 2015, an absolute change of £60,214.29 and a cumulative change of 12,042.86%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $14,693.40 and total percent change of 2,938.68%.


Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. Breaking down these categories helps explain the main drivers behind price changes.

This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1850 and 2015.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.09% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $500 in 1850 → 2015
Food and beverages 4.15 82,377.36 412,386.82
Housing 4.35 112,976.69 565,383.47
Apparel 2.11 3,057.28 15,786.41
Transportation 3.36 23,078.73 115,893.63
Medical care 4.84 242,854.23 1,214,771.16
Recreation 1.12 523.33 3,116.66
Education and communication 2.20 3,544.22 18,221.09
Other goods and services 5.28 488,102.24 2,441,011.20

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 1850. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to calculate inflation rate for $500, 1850 to 2015

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1850 and 2015:

CPI in 2015 CPI in 1850
×
1850 USD value
=
2015 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 7.8 in the year 1850 and 237.017 in 2015:

237.0177.8
×
$500
=
$15,193.40

$500 in 1850 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $15,193.40 in 2015.

To get the total inflation rate for the 165 years between 1850 and 2015, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2015 - CPI in 1850CPI in 1850
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (165 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

237.017 - 7.87.8
×
100
=
2,939%

Data source & citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1634 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University and from the American Antiquarian Society.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “$500 in 1850 → 2015 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 26 Jun. 2022, https://www.officialdata.org/1850-dollars-in-2015?amount=500.

Special thanks to QuickChart for their chart image API, which is used for chart downloads.

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 1850 to 2015
Cumulative price change 2,938.68%
Average inflation rate 2.09%
Converted amount ($500 base) $15,193.40
Price difference ($500 base) $14,693.40
CPI in 1850 7.800
CPI in 2015 237.017
Inflation in 1850 1.30%
Inflation in 2015 0.12%
$500 in 1850 $15,193.40 in 2015