$1 in 1855 is worth $29.92 today

Value of $1 from 1855 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 2,891.72% higher than average prices since 1855. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.08% per year during this period, causing the real value of a dollar to decrease.

In other words, $1 in 1855 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $29.92 in 2020, a difference of $28.92 over 165 years.

The 1855 inflation rate was 3.57%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 1.37%1. If this number holds, $1 today will be equivalent in buying power to $1.01 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1855 to 2020
Cumulative price change 2,891.72%
Average inflation rate 2.08%
Converted amount ($1 base) $29.92
Price difference ($1 base) $28.92
CPI in 1855 8.700
CPI in 2020 260.280
Inflation in 1855 3.57%
Inflation in 2020 1.37%

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

Buying power of $1 in 1855

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $1 in 1855 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $1, you would need to end with $29.92 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $1 is equivalent to $29.92 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 1855 dollars, the chart below shows how $1 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: 1855-2020
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1855 $1.00 3.57%
1856 $0.98 -2.30%
1857 $1.00 2.35%
1858 $0.94 -5.75%
1859 $0.95 1.22%
1860 $0.95 0.00%
1861 $1.01 6.02%
1862 $1.16 14.77%
1863 $1.45 24.75%
1864 $1.80 24.60%
1865 $1.87 3.82%
1866 $1.83 -2.45%
1867 $1.70 -6.92%
1868 $1.63 -4.05%
1869 $1.56 -4.23%
1870 $1.51 -3.68%
1871 $1.40 -6.87%
1872 $1.40 0.00%
1873 $1.38 -1.64%
1874 $1.31 -5.00%
1875 $1.26 -3.51%
1876 $1.23 -2.73%
1877 $1.21 -1.87%
1878 $1.15 -4.76%
1879 $1.15 0.00%
1880 $1.17 2.00%
1881 $1.17 0.00%
1882 $1.17 0.00%
1883 $1.16 -0.98%
1884 $1.13 -2.97%
1885 $1.11 -1.02%
1886 $1.08 -3.09%
1887 $1.09 1.06%
1888 $1.09 0.00%
1889 $1.06 -3.16%
1890 $1.05 -1.09%
1891 $1.05 0.00%
1892 $1.05 0.00%
1893 $1.03 -1.10%
1894 $0.99 -4.44%
1895 $0.97 -2.33%
1896 $0.97 0.00%
1897 $0.95 -1.19%
1898 $0.95 0.00%
1899 $0.95 0.00%
1900 $0.97 1.20%
1901 $0.98 1.19%
1902 $0.99 1.18%
1903 $1.01 2.33%
1904 $1.02 1.14%
1905 $1.01 -1.12%
1906 $1.03 2.27%
1907 $1.08 4.44%
1908 $1.06 -2.13%
1909 $1.05 -1.09%
1910 $1.09 4.40%
1911 $1.09 0.00%
1912 $1.11 2.11%
1913 $1.14 2.06%
1914 $1.15 1.01%
1915 $1.16 1.00%
1916 $1.25 7.92%
1917 $1.47 17.43%
1918 $1.74 17.97%
1919 $1.99 14.57%
1920 $2.30 15.61%
1921 $2.06 -10.50%
1922 $1.93 -6.15%
1923 $1.97 1.79%
1924 $1.97 0.00%
1925 $2.01 2.34%
1926 $2.03 1.14%
1927 $2.00 -1.69%
1928 $1.97 -1.72%
1929 $1.97 0.00%
1930 $1.92 -2.34%
1931 $1.75 -8.98%
1932 $1.57 -9.87%
1933 $1.49 -5.11%
1934 $1.54 3.08%
1935 $1.57 2.24%
1936 $1.60 1.46%
1937 $1.66 3.60%
1938 $1.62 -2.08%
1939 $1.60 -1.42%
1940 $1.61 0.72%
1941 $1.69 5.00%
1942 $1.87 10.88%
1943 $1.99 6.13%
1944 $2.02 1.73%
1945 $2.07 2.27%
1946 $2.24 8.33%
1947 $2.56 14.36%
1948 $2.77 8.07%
1949 $2.74 -1.24%
1950 $2.77 1.26%
1951 $2.99 7.88%
1952 $3.05 1.92%
1953 $3.07 0.75%
1954 $3.09 0.75%
1955 $3.08 -0.37%
1956 $3.13 1.49%
1957 $3.23 3.31%
1958 $3.32 2.85%
1959 $3.34 0.69%
1960 $3.40 1.72%
1961 $3.44 1.01%
1962 $3.47 1.00%
1963 $3.52 1.32%
1964 $3.56 1.31%
1965 $3.62 1.61%
1966 $3.72 2.86%
1967 $3.84 3.09%
1968 $4.00 4.19%
1969 $4.22 5.46%
1970 $4.46 5.72%
1971 $4.66 4.38%
1972 $4.80 3.21%
1973 $5.10 6.22%
1974 $5.67 11.04%
1975 $6.18 9.13%
1976 $6.54 5.76%
1977 $6.97 6.50%
1978 $7.49 7.59%
1979 $8.34 11.35%
1980 $9.47 13.50%
1981 $10.45 10.32%
1982 $11.09 6.16%
1983 $11.45 3.21%
1984 $11.94 4.32%
1985 $12.37 3.56%
1986 $12.60 1.86%
1987 $13.06 3.65%
1988 $13.60 4.14%
1989 $14.25 4.82%
1990 $15.02 5.40%
1991 $15.66 4.21%
1992 $16.13 3.01%
1993 $16.61 2.99%
1994 $17.03 2.56%
1995 $17.52 2.83%
1996 $18.03 2.95%
1997 $18.45 2.29%
1998 $18.74 1.56%
1999 $19.15 2.21%
2000 $19.79 3.36%
2001 $20.36 2.85%
2002 $20.68 1.58%
2003 $21.15 2.28%
2004 $21.71 2.66%
2005 $22.45 3.39%
2006 $23.17 3.23%
2007 $23.83 2.85%
2008 $24.75 3.84%
2009 $24.66 -0.36%
2010 $25.06 1.64%
2011 $25.86 3.16%
2012 $26.39 2.07%
2013 $26.78 1.46%
2014 $27.21 1.62%
2015 $27.24 0.12%
2016 $27.59 1.26%
2017 $28.17 2.13%
2018 $28.88 2.49%
2019 $29.39 1.76%
2020 $29.92 1.81%*
* 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 1855 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 2,891.72% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a dollar today
Initial value Equivalent value
$1 dollar in 1855 $29.92 dollars today
$5 dollars in 1855 $149.59 dollars today
$10 dollars in 1855 $299.17 dollars today
$50 dollars in 1855 $1,495.86 dollars today
$100 dollars in 1855 $2,991.72 dollars today
$500 dollars in 1855 $14,958.62 dollars today
$1,000 dollars in 1855 $29,917.24 dollars today
$5,000 dollars in 1855 $149,586.21 dollars today
$10,000 dollars in 1855 $299,172.41 dollars today
$50,000 dollars in 1855 $1,495,862.07 dollars today
$100,000 dollars in 1855 $2,991,724.14 dollars today
$500,000 dollars in 1855 $14,958,620.69 dollars today
$1,000,000 dollars in 1855 $29,917,241.38 dollars today

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1.00 in 1855 would be equivalent to £108.40 in 2020, an absolute change of £107.40 and a cumulative change of 10,740.41%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $28.92 and total percent change of 2,891.72%.


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 1855 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.08% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1855 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.90 55,020.34 551.20
Housing 4.19 87,204.09 873.04
Apparel 1.96 2,348.04 24.48
Transportation 3.17 16,998.83 170.99
Medical care 5.12 378,184.67 3,782.85
Recreation 1.10 505.42 6.05
Education and communication 1.84 1,924.97 20.25
Other goods and services 4.98 305,395.93 3,054.96

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 1855. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1 since 1855

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1855 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1855
×
1855 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 8.7 in the year 1855 and 260.28 in 2020:

260.288.7
×
$1
=
$29.92

$1 in 1855 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $29.92 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 165 years between 1855 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1855CPI in 1855
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (165 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

260.28 - 8.78.7
×
100
=
2,892%

News headlines from 1855

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

  • David Livingstone visits the Victoria Falls, becoming the first European to see it.
  • Henry John Temple, Third Viscount Palmerston, forms a British government.
  • A train passes a railway suspension bridge at the Niagara Falls, US for the first time.
  • Kerosene is patented by Abraham Gesner.

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: “$1 in 1855 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 29 Oct. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1855?amount=1&endYear=2020.

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 1855 to 2020
Cumulative price change 2,891.72%
Average inflation rate 2.08%
Converted amount ($1 base) $29.92
Price difference ($1 base) $28.92
CPI in 1855 8.700
CPI in 2020 260.280
Inflation in 1855 3.57%
Inflation in 2020 1.37%