U.S. inflation rate in 1873: -1.64%

Inflation in 1873 and its effect on dollar value

$1 in 1872 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $0.98 in 1873. The dollar had an average deflation rate of -1.64% per year since 1872, producing a cumulative price change of -1.64%. Purchasing power increased by 1.64% in 1873 compared to 1872. On average, you would have to spend 1.64% less money in 1873 than in 1872 for the same item. This is an example of deflation.

This means that prices in 1873 are 1.64% lower than average prices since 1872, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index.

The inflation rate in 1872 was 0.00%. The inflation rate in 1873 was -1.64%. The 1873 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 2.13% per year between 1873 and 2022.

Inflation rate is calculated by change in the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI in 1873 was 12.00. It was 12.20 in the previous year, 1872. The difference in CPI between the years is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to officially determine inflation. Because the 1873 CPI is less than 1872 CPI, negative inflation (also known as deflation) has occurred.

Inflation from 1872 to 1873
Average inflation rate -1.64%
Converted amount ($1 base) $0.98
Price difference ($1 base) $-0.02
CPI in 1872 12.200
CPI in 1873 12.000
Inflation in 1872 0.00%
Inflation in 1873 -1.64%
$1 in 1872 $0.98 in 1873

USD Inflation since 1635
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1.00 in 1872 would be equivalent to £1.04 in 1873, an absolute change of £0.04 and a cumulative change of 4.00%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $-0.02 and total percent change of -1.64%.

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 1872 and 1873.

Compare these values to the overall average of -1.64% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1872 → 1873
Food and beverages 0.00 0.00 1.00
Housing 0.00 0.00 1.00
Apparel 0.00 0.00 1.00
Transportation 0.00 0.00 1.00
Medical care 0.00 0.00 1.00
Recreation 0.00 0.00 1.00
Education and communication 0.00 0.00 1.00
Other goods and services 0.00 0.00 1.00

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1872. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1, 1872 to 1873

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1872 and 1873:

CPI in 1873 CPI in 1872
1872 USD value
1873 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 12.2 in the year 1872 and 12 in 1873:


$1 in 1872 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $0.98 in 1873.

To get the total inflation rate for the 1 years between 1872 and 1873, we use the following formula:

CPI in 1873 - CPI in 1872CPI in 1872
Cumulative inflation rate (1 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

12 - 12.212.2

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $1 in the S&P 500 index in 1872, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $1.08 in 1873. This is a return on investment of 8.37%, with an absolute return of $0.08 on top of the original $1.

These numbers are not inflation adjusted, so they are considered nominal. In order to evaluate the real return on our investment, we must calculate the return with inflation taken into account.

The compounding effect of inflation would account for -1.67% of returns ($-0.02) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1 investment is $0.10. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $0 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1872-1873
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $1 $1.08 8.37%
Inflation Adjusted
$1 $1.10 10.17%

Information displayed above may differ slightly from other S&P 500 calculators. Minor discrepancies can occur because we use the latest CPI data for inflation, annualized inflation numbers for previous years, and we compute S&P price and dividends from January of 1872 to latest available data for 1873 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1872 and 1873, see the stock market returns calculator.

News headlines from 1872

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

  • Coronation of Yohannes IV Emperoro of Ethiopia, is the first imperial coronation in Axum for over 200 years.
  • Yellowstone is declared the world's first national park.
  • The Mary Celeste sets sail from Staten Island for Genoa and is found abandoned four weeks later.

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: “Inflation Rate in 1873 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 22 Jan. 2022, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1873.

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 1872 to 1873
Average inflation rate -1.64%
Converted amount ($1 base) $0.98
Price difference ($1 base) $-0.02
CPI in 1872 12.200
CPI in 1873 12.000
Inflation in 1872 0.00%
Inflation in 1873 -1.64%
$1 in 1872 $0.98 in 1873