$10 in 1840 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $315.30 today, an increase of $305.30 over 181 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 1.92% per year between 1840 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,052.99%.

This means that today's prices are 31.53 times higher than average prices since 1840, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 3.17% of what it could buy back then.

The 1840 inflation rate was -6.45%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 5.39%^{1}.
If this number holds, $10 today will be equivalent in buying power to $10.54 next year.
The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.

Contents

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Cumulative price change | 3,052.99% |

Average inflation rate | 1.92% |

Converted amount ($10 base) | $315.30 |

Price difference ($10 base) | $305.30 |

CPI in 1840 | 8.700 |

CPI in 2021 | 274.310 |

Inflation in 1840 | -6.45% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.39% |

$10 in 1840 | $315.30 in 2021 |

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $10 in 1840 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $10, you would need to end with $315.30 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $10 is equivalent to $315.30 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 1840 dollars, the chart below shows how $10 is worth less over 181 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:

This conversion table shows various other 1840 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 3,052.99% change in prices:

Initial value | Equivalent value |
---|---|

$1 dollar in 1840 | $31.53 dollars today |

$5 dollars in 1840 | $157.65 dollars today |

$10 dollars in 1840 | $315.30 dollars today |

$50 dollars in 1840 | $1,576.49 dollars today |

$100 dollars in 1840 | $3,152.99 dollars today |

$500 dollars in 1840 | $15,764.94 dollars today |

$1,000 dollars in 1840 | $31,529.89 dollars today |

$5,000 dollars in 1840 | $157,649.43 dollars today |

$10,000 dollars in 1840 | $315,298.85 dollars today |

$50,000 dollars in 1840 | $1,576,494.25 dollars today |

$100,000 dollars in 1840 | $3,152,988.51 dollars today |

$500,000 dollars in 1840 | $15,764,942.53 dollars today |

$1,000,000 dollars in 1840 | $31,529,885.06 dollars today |

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £10.00 in 1840 would be equivalent to £1,045.00 in 2021, an absolute change of £1,035.00 and a cumulative change of 10,350.01%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $305.30 and total percent change of 3,052.99%.

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 1840 and 2021.

Compare these values to the overall average of 1.92% per year:

Category | Avg Inflation (%) | Total Inflation (%) | $10 in 1840 → 2021 |
---|---|---|---|

Food and beverages | 3.89 | 99,199.04 | 9,929.90 |

Housing | 4.16 | 160,767.43 | 16,086.74 |

Apparel | 1.95 | 3,220.20 | 332.02 |

Transportation | 3.27 | 33,766.98 | 3,386.70 |

Medical care | 4.69 | 398,609.85 | 39,870.98 |

Recreation | 1.13 | 668.66 | 76.87 |

Education and communication | 1.83 | 2,572.33 | 267.23 |

Other goods and services | 4.94 | 617,546.64 | 61,764.66 |

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 1840. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1840 and today:

CPI today
CPI in 1840

×

1840 USD value

=

Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 8.7 in the year 1840 and 274.31 in 2021:

274.318.7

×

$10

=

$10 in 1840 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $315.30 in 2021.

To get the total inflation rate for the 181 years between 1840 and 2021, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2021 - CPI in 1840CPI in 1840

×

100

=

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

274.31 - 8.78.7

×

100

=

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

- Identification of Antarctica as a new continent by American naval expedition lead by Charles Wilkes.
- Charles Wilkes discovers Antarctica in an American naval expedition.
- Charles Wilkes discovers the Shackleton Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
- The world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black, is released.
- Samuel Morse patents the telegraph.

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index (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: “$10 in 1840 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 16 Oct. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1840?amount=10.

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

Cumulative price change | 3,052.99% |

Average inflation rate | 1.92% |

Converted amount ($10 base) | $315.30 |

Price difference ($10 base) | $305.30 |

CPI in 1840 | 8.700 |

CPI in 2021 | 274.310 |

Inflation in 1840 | -6.45% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.39% |

$10 in 1840 | $315.30 in 2021 |