# \$3 in 1885 is worth \$79.30 today

\$

## Value of \$3 from 1885 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 2,543.19% higher than average prices since 1885. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.46% per year during this period, causing the real value of a dollar to decrease.

In other words, \$3 in 1885 is equivalent in purchasing power to about \$79.30 in 2020, a difference of \$76.30 over 135 years.

The 1885 inflation rate was -1.02%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 0.33%1. If this number holds, \$3 today will be equivalent in buying power to \$3.01 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.

 Cumulative price change 2,543.19% Average inflation rate 2.46% Converted amount (\$3 base) \$79.30 Price difference (\$3 base) \$76.30 CPI in 1885 9.700 CPI in 2020 256.389 Inflation in 1885 -1.02% Inflation in 2020 0.33%

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

## Buying power of \$3 in 1885

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for \$3 in 1885 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with \$3, you would need to end with \$79.30 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When \$3 is equivalent to \$79.30 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 1885 dollars, the chart below shows how \$3 is worth less over 135 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: 1885-2020
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1885 \$3.00 -1.02%
1886 \$2.91 -3.09%
1887 \$2.94 1.06%
1888 \$2.94 0.00%
1889 \$2.85 -3.16%
1890 \$2.81 -1.09%
1891 \$2.81 0.00%
1892 \$2.81 0.00%
1893 \$2.78 -1.10%
1894 \$2.66 -4.44%
1895 \$2.60 -2.33%
1896 \$2.60 0.00%
1897 \$2.57 -1.19%
1898 \$2.57 0.00%
1899 \$2.57 0.00%
1900 \$2.60 1.20%
1901 \$2.63 1.19%
1902 \$2.66 1.18%
1903 \$2.72 2.33%
1904 \$2.75 1.14%
1905 \$2.72 -1.12%
1906 \$2.78 2.27%
1907 \$2.91 4.44%
1908 \$2.85 -2.13%
1909 \$2.81 -1.09%
1910 \$2.94 4.40%
1911 \$2.94 0.00%
1912 \$3.00 2.11%
1913 \$3.06 2.06%
1914 \$3.09 1.01%
1915 \$3.12 1.00%
1916 \$3.37 7.92%
1917 \$3.96 17.43%
1918 \$4.67 17.97%
1919 \$5.35 14.57%
1920 \$6.19 15.61%
1921 \$5.54 -10.50%
1922 \$5.20 -6.15%
1923 \$5.29 1.79%
1924 \$5.29 0.00%
1925 \$5.41 2.34%
1926 \$5.47 1.14%
1927 \$5.38 -1.69%
1928 \$5.29 -1.72%
1929 \$5.29 0.00%
1930 \$5.16 -2.34%
1931 \$4.70 -8.98%
1932 \$4.24 -9.87%
1933 \$4.02 -5.11%
1934 \$4.14 3.08%
1935 \$4.24 2.24%
1936 \$4.30 1.46%
1937 \$4.45 3.60%
1938 \$4.36 -2.08%
1939 \$4.30 -1.42%
1940 \$4.33 0.72%
1941 \$4.55 5.00%
1942 \$5.04 10.88%
1943 \$5.35 6.13%
1944 \$5.44 1.73%
1945 \$5.57 2.27%
1946 \$6.03 8.33%
1947 \$6.90 14.36%
1948 \$7.45 8.07%
1949 \$7.36 -1.24%
1950 \$7.45 1.26%
1951 \$8.04 7.88%
1952 \$8.20 1.92%
1953 \$8.26 0.75%
1954 \$8.32 0.75%
1955 \$8.29 -0.37%
1956 \$8.41 1.49%
1957 \$8.69 3.31%
1958 \$8.94 2.85%
1959 \$9.00 0.69%
1960 \$9.15 1.72%
1961 \$9.25 1.01%
1962 \$9.34 1.00%
1963 \$9.46 1.32%
1964 \$9.59 1.31%
1965 \$9.74 1.61%
1966 \$10.02 2.86%
1967 \$10.33 3.09%
1968 \$10.76 4.19%
1969 \$11.35 5.46%
1970 \$12.00 5.72%
1971 \$12.53 4.38%
1972 \$12.93 3.21%
1973 \$13.73 6.22%
1974 \$15.25 11.04%
1975 \$16.64 9.13%
1976 \$17.60 5.76%
1977 \$18.74 6.50%
1978 \$20.16 7.59%
1979 \$22.45 11.35%
1980 \$25.48 13.50%
1981 \$28.11 10.32%
1982 \$29.85 6.16%
1983 \$30.80 3.21%
1984 \$32.13 4.32%
1985 \$33.28 3.56%
1986 \$33.90 1.86%
1987 \$35.13 3.65%
1988 \$36.59 4.14%
1989 \$38.35 4.82%
1990 \$40.42 5.40%
1991 \$42.12 4.21%
1992 \$43.39 3.01%
1993 \$44.69 2.99%
1994 \$45.84 2.56%
1995 \$47.13 2.83%
1996 \$48.53 2.95%
1997 \$49.64 2.29%
1998 \$50.41 1.56%
1999 \$51.53 2.21%
2000 \$53.26 3.36%
2001 \$54.77 2.85%
2002 \$55.64 1.58%
2003 \$56.91 2.28%
2004 \$58.42 2.66%
2005 \$60.40 3.39%
2006 \$62.35 3.23%
2007 \$64.13 2.85%
2008 \$66.59 3.84%
2009 \$66.35 -0.36%
2010 \$67.44 1.64%
2011 \$69.57 3.16%
2012 \$71.01 2.07%
2013 \$72.05 1.46%
2014 \$73.22 1.62%
2015 \$73.30 0.12%
2016 \$74.23 1.26%
2017 \$75.81 2.13%
2018 \$77.70 2.49%
2019 \$79.07 1.76%
2020 \$79.30 0.29%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 129 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1885 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 2,543.19% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a dollar today
Initial value Equivalent value
\$1 dollar in 1885 \$26.43 dollars today
\$5 dollars in 1885 \$132.16 dollars today
\$10 dollars in 1885 \$264.32 dollars today
\$50 dollars in 1885 \$1,321.59 dollars today
\$100 dollars in 1885 \$2,643.19 dollars today
\$500 dollars in 1885 \$13,215.93 dollars today
\$1,000 dollars in 1885 \$26,431.86 dollars today
\$5,000 dollars in 1885 \$132,159.28 dollars today
\$10,000 dollars in 1885 \$264,318.56 dollars today
\$50,000 dollars in 1885 \$1,321,592.78 dollars today
\$100,000 dollars in 1885 \$2,643,185.57 dollars today
\$500,000 dollars in 1885 \$13,215,927.84 dollars today
\$1,000,000 dollars in 1885 \$26,431,855.67 dollars today

## Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £3.00 in 1885 would be equivalent to £388.04 in 2020, an absolute change of £385.04 and a cumulative change of 12,834.58%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of \$76.30 and total percent change of 2,543.19%.

## 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 1885 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.46% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) \$3 in 1885 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.87 16,836.07 508.08
Housing 4.18 25,169.92 758.10
Apparel 1.98 1,317.66 42.53
Transportation 3.18 6,757.01 205.71
Medical care 5.11 83,066.97 2,495.01
Recreation 1.09 334.35 13.03
Education and communication 1.82 1,044.27 34.33
Other goods and services 4.98 70,400.84 2,115.03

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 1885. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

## How to Calculate Inflation Rate for \$3 since 1885

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1885 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1885
×
1885 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 9.7 in the year 1885 and 256.389 in 2020:

256.3899.7
×
\$3
=
\$79.30

\$3 in 1885 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as \$79.30 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 135 years between 1885 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1885CPI in 1885
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (135 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

256.389 - 9.79.7
×
100
=
2,543%

## Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 2.46% has a compounding effect between 1885 and 2020. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 2,543.19% over 135 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested \$3 in the S&P 500 index in 1885, our investment would be nominally worth approximately \$516,528.91 in 2020. This is a return on investment of 17,217,530.33%, with an absolute return of \$516,525.91 on top of the original \$3.

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 96.22% of returns (\$496,987.00) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our \$3 investment is \$19,538.91. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around \$16,608 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1885-2020
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal \$3 \$516,528.91 17,217,530.33%
Real
\$3 \$19,541.91 651,296.96%

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 1885 to latest available data for 2020 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1885 and 2020, see the stock market returns calculator.

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

• King Leopold II of Belgium makes Congo his own personal, colonial possession.
• Congo is given to Belgium whilst Nigeria is awarded to Great Britain during the Berlin Conference
• Bismarck, German chancellor, conquers Cameron and Togoland
• Louis Pasteur conducts the first successful test of an anti-rabies vaccine
• Gottlieb Daimler invents the first motorcycle.

## 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: “\$3 in 1885 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 29 May. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1885?amount=3.