£100 in 1939 is worth £6,704.92 today

Why a pound today is worth only 1% of a pound in 1939

Updated: May 12, 2021

£100 in 1939 is equivalent in purchasing power to about £6,704.92 today, an increase of £6,604.92 over 82 years. The pound had an average inflation rate of 5.26% per year between 1939 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 6,604.92%.

This means that today's prices are 67.05 times higher than average prices since 1939, according to the Office for National Statistics composite price index. A pound today only buys 1.49% of what it could buy back then.

The 1939 inflation rate was 2.98%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 0.70%1. If this number holds, £100 today will be equivalent in buying power to £100.70 next year.


Inflation from 1939 to 2021
Cumulative price change 6,604.92%
Average inflation rate 5.26%
Converted amount (£100 base) £6,704.92
Price difference (£100 base) £6,604.92
CPI in 1939 17.300
CPI in 2021 1,159.951
Inflation in 1939 2.98%
Inflation in 2021 0.70%
£100 in 1939 £6,704.92 in 2021

GBP Inflation since 1750
Annual Rate, the Office for National Statistics CPI
Download

Buying power of £100 in 1939

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for £100 in 1939 (price index tracking began in 1750).

For example, if you started with £100, you would need to end with £6,704.92 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When £100 is equivalent to £6,704.92 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.K. pound decreases over time. In other words, a pound will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a pound over time. By calculating the value in 1939 dollars, the chart below shows how £100 is worth less over 82 years.

According to the Office for National Statistics, each of these GBP amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Pound inflation: 1939-2021
Year Pound Value Inflation Rate
1939 £100.00 2.98%
1940 £116.76 16.76%
1941 £129.48 10.89%
1942 £138.73 7.14%
1943 £143.35 3.33%
1944 £147.40 2.82%
1945 £151.45 2.75%
1946 £156.07 3.05%
1947 £167.05 7.04%
1948 £179.77 7.61%
1949 £184.97 2.89%
1950 £190.75 3.13%
1951 £208.09 9.09%
1952 £227.17 9.17%
1953 £234.10 3.05%
1954 £238.73 1.98%
1955 £249.13 4.36%
1956 £261.85 5.10%
1957 £271.10 3.53%
1958 £279.77 3.20%
1959 £280.92 0.41%
1960 £283.82 1.03%
1961 £293.64 3.46%
1962 £306.36 4.33%
1963 £312.14 1.89%
1964 £322.54 3.33%
1965 £337.57 4.66%
1966 £350.87 3.94%
1967 £360.12 2.64%
1968 £376.88 4.65%
1969 £397.11 5.37%
1970 £422.54 6.40%
1971 £462.43 9.44%
1972 £495.38 7.13%
1973 £540.46 9.10%
1974 £627.17 16.04%
1975 £779.19 24.24%
1976 £908.09 16.54%
1977 £1,052.02 15.85%
1978 £1,139.31 8.30%
1979 £1,291.91 13.39%
1980 £1,524.28 17.99%
1981 £1,705.20 11.87%
1982 £1,852.02 8.61%
1983 £1,936.99 4.59%
1984 £2,033.53 4.98%
1985 £2,157.23 6.08%
1986 £2,230.64 3.40%
1987 £2,323.70 4.17%
1988 £2,437.57 4.90%
1989 £2,627.17 7.78%
1990 £2,875.72 9.46%
1991 £3,044.51 5.87%
1992 £3,158.38 3.74%
1993 £3,208.67 1.59%
1994 £3,286.13 2.41%
1995 £3,400.00 3.47%
1996 £3,482.08 2.41%
1997 £3,591.33 3.14%
1998 £3,714.45 3.43%
1999 £3,771.68 1.54%
2000 £3,883.24 2.96%
2001 £3,952.02 1.77%
2002 £4,017.92 1.67%
2003 £4,134.10 2.89%
2004 £4,257.23 2.98%
2005 £4,377.46 2.82%
2006 £4,517.34 3.20%
2007 £4,710.98 4.29%
2008 £4,898.84 3.99%
2009 £4,872.83 -0.53%
2010 £5,097.69 4.61%
2011 £5,363.01 5.20%
2012 £5,535.26 3.21%
2013 £5,703.47 3.04%
2014 £5,838.15 2.36%
2015 £5,895.95 0.99%
2016 £5,998.27 1.74%
2017 £6,213.29 3.58%
2018 £6,381.05 2.70%
2019 £6,540.58 2.50%
2020 £6,658.31 1.80%
2021 £6,704.92 0.70%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 76 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1939 amounts in today's pounds, based on the 6,604.92% change in prices:

Conversion: 1939 pounds today
Initial value Equivalent value
£1 pound in 1939 £67.05 pounds today
£5 pounds in 1939 £335.25 pounds today
£10 pounds in 1939 £670.49 pounds today
£50 pounds in 1939 £3,352.46 pounds today
£100 pounds in 1939 £6,704.92 pounds today
£500 pounds in 1939 £33,524.59 pounds today
£1,000 pounds in 1939 £67,049.19 pounds today
£5,000 pounds in 1939 £335,245.94 pounds today
£10,000 pounds in 1939 £670,491.87 pounds today
£50,000 pounds in 1939 £3,352,459.36 pounds today
£100,000 pounds in 1939 £6,704,918.72 pounds today
£500,000 pounds in 1939 £33,524,593.58 pounds today
£1,000,000 pounds in 1939 £67,049,187.17 pounds today

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for £100 since 1939

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1939 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1939
×
1939 GBP value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.K. CPI was 17.3 in the year 1939 and 1159.950938 in 2021:

1159.95093817.3
×
£100
=
£6,704.92

£100 in 1939 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as £6,704.92 in 2021.

To get the total inflation rate for the 82 years between 1939 and 2021, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2021 - CPI in 1939CPI in 1939
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (82 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

1159.950938 - 17.317.3
×
100
=
6,605%

News headlines from 1939

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

  • Hitler makes a speech to the German Reichstag where he threatens Jews.
  • Mahatma Gandhi begins his fast in protest against Britain’s autocratic rule in India
  • The Battle of Nanchang takes place between the Kuomintang ant the Japanese, during Sino-Japanese War.
  • The Spanish Civil War ends when Madrid falls to Francisco Franco.
  • Britain and France declare war on Germany after it invades Poland, signaling the start of World War II.
  • Mussolini’s Italy joins Hitler's war against Great Britain and France.
  • Winston Churchill is named British Prime Minister, succeeding Neville Chamberlain.
  • Nazi blitzkrieg conquest of France begins when the Germans cross the Muese River.
  • Auschwitz concentration camp is opened in Nazi-controlled Poland.

Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the composite price index published by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). A composite index is created by combining price data from several different published sources, both official and unofficial. The Consumer Price Index, normally used to compute inflation, has only been tracked since 1988. All inflation calculations after 1988 use the Office for National Statistics' Consumer Price Index, except for 2017, which is based on The Bank of England's forecast.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “Value of 1939 pounds today | UK Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 12 May. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/uk/inflation/1939.

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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Inflation from 1939 to 2021
Cumulative price change 6,604.92%
Average inflation rate 5.26%
Converted amount (£100 base) £6,704.92
Price difference (£100 base) £6,604.92
CPI in 1939 17.300
CPI in 2021 1,159.951
Inflation in 1939 2.98%
Inflation in 2021 0.70%
£100 in 1939 £6,704.92 in 2021