The Saga Continues…

Creston Museum Behind The Scenes, News & Articles Leave a Comment

Just in case you missed our first adventure, we tackled typewriters as the inaugural de-cluttering category. Next on the hit list….

CASH REGISTERS!!!

(and adding machines)

{and copy machines}

Although we didn’t have them in the sheer numbers (like the Serengeti grazers sized herd of typewriters), some of these machines certainly made up for it in size!

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This guy is a Gestetner (basically a copy machine…click the long ‘G’ word for a link to more info about it). We had…a few…of these guys too…

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(it took multiple grown men plus a moving-dolly in order to get some of these things from point A. to B.)

I must say however, that some of these pieces were GORGEOUS! [specifically the one below. it is dusty, but the detail is incredible]. Apparently, for a certain age of register, a common decoration is a marble topped cash drawer framing out the actual register it’s self, (which also contributes to making it very heavy if you can’t remove it).

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We have another one, kind of similar in the General Store Display in the Stone House, it has the white marble also, but isn’t as big as the one above.

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We don’t know much about the first one, apart from it came out of the Yahk collection. Kind of like the typewriter, the keys on these guys are practically impossible to resist pushing! The first one has buttons up to $10, and the one just above actually maxes out at $15!

What?! Hold up.

Compared to POS systems today, that is a big difference!

But keep in mind, this register is from ~1912, and prices were SIGNIFICANTLY different!

I love the internets…found a graph HERE, made up of average wages for industry type jobs from early 1900’s to more recently. Around here, things like logging were mainstays, maybe some railroad, small businesses, along with agriculture, being the most prominent. (scroll down to the bottom for the earliest years)

I have a game downstairs in the store, comparing prices from post war/pre-depression era, to during the 30’s, and good mercy…it is incredible! It was actually taken out of a local grocers add, trying to bring business in for the great value they were offering. It was somewhere around the idea of ‘Before, $17.? got you a bag of sugar, but now look what you can get in our store for the same price’ and it goes on to list all the wonderful deals…

–>The following prices were from 1933… <–

1 tin baking powder ($0.90)

1lb Groceteria (Western Family/PC equivalent) Coffee ($0.27)

6 bars soap ($0.25)

1 tin Jam ($0.47)

1lb Cheese: ($0.22)

98lbs Flour ($2.25)

100lbs Sugar ($5.85)

20lbs Rolled Oats ($0.85)

2 cans milk ($0.23)

4lbs Rice ($0.23)

Sack of Salt ($0.14)

(yes, I know this doesn’t total 17 & change, I didn’t have room on my card for all the stuff, I just chose some staples)

Now, on one hand, it is pretty nice how much the prices dropped by the consumers point of view; but the flip side being, families were also making SIGNIFICANTLY less, in fact, they were lucky enough to be making anything at all! (fun fact: this is where ‘Hobo Art’ came from, since many ‘Hobos’ were actually skilled business and tradesmen who found themselves suddenly out of work, they felt compelled to trade something for their food/lodging on their travels looking for work since they couldn’t pay cash)

Here in Creston, we were pretty lucky; we didn’t feel the depression as much as other areas in the country because basically, if you could get enough to pay your mortgage/taxes, then you could feed your family with what you grew in your back yard or on the farm, chickens were fairly cheap, you could hunt for meat…so it was do-able; very few families here were devastated, unlike the prairies.

Doing a little reading on the impact, I came across this Wikipedia page I discovered that “Urban unemployment nationwide was 19%; Toronto’s rate was 17%, according to the census of 1931. Farmers who stayed on their farms were not considered unemployed.[5] By 1933, 30% of the labor force was out of work, and one fifth of the population became dependent on government assistance. Wages fell as did prices. In some areas, such as mining and lumbering areas, the decline was far worse.”

Thirty percent…

In the grand scheme of the entire country, it seems not entirely overwhelming, but break it down, 3 out of every 10 workers was out of a job.

Just for kicks and giggles though, lets take a look at what prices were like pre- depression…

 

Click this guy –> 😀 for a link to a budget site I found (once again, thank you awesome internets full of knowledge) detailing approximate costs of living for a week, including price of different foods, rent ect. The numbers it has are averages for 60 cities if I am understanding it properly. According to Stats Canada, the average income in 1920 was $6,800, which would roughly equal $960 of todays dollars in a year. (try living off that now…bahaha…you couldn’t even pay property tax on a payed off property with that!)

Men tended to bring home roughly $7,500 annually, while women averaged a much leaner $4,100. MATHS TIME!

7500 / 12 months = 625 per month

625 / 4 weeks per month = 156.25 per week BEFORE TAXES

 

4100 / 12 months = 341.67

341.67 / 4 weeks per month = 85.42 per week BEFORE TAXES

Below is a chart I copied from Stats Canada  detailing an average/approximation of staple prices through different years.

Now, since birth control was strictly banned by many Churches, the number of children in a family could get quite high (my maternal grandfather has/had 8 siblings, even though it was post depression era).

{interestingly enough during the depression many women started laying down the law and using it anyway so they didn’t have more mouths they simply could not feed}.

Just for reference, I found a picture of 1 lb of meat. Current nutritional guidelines suggest the average adult should eat about 81 lbs of meat per year to meet nutritional requirements such as protein, and other essentials such as iron and vitamins ect.

(notice how little fresh fruit & vegetables are on this list-but lets just assume that these are being grown in a kitchen garden)

 

Unit 1920 1926 1928 1929 1930 1931
$
Staple foods
Beef, sirloin steak 1 lb. 0.389 0.294 0.345 0.363 0.356 0.286
Beef, chuck roast 1 lb. 0.251 0.160 0.206 0.227 0.221 0.158
Veal, roast 1 lb. 0.274 0.193 0.226 0.245 0.239 0.183
Mutton, roast 1 lb. 0.354 0.298 0.300 0.309 0.302 0.253
Pork, fresh, roast 1 lb. 0.397 0.302 0.273 0.300 0.298 0.223
Pork, salt mess 1 lb. 0.362 0.278 0.261 0.273 0.271 0.226
Bacon, breakfast 1 lb. 0.559 0.431 0.379 0.393 0.399 0.301
Lard, pure leaf 1 lb. 0.380 0.246 0.221 0.219 0.212 0.157
Eggs, fresh 1 dozen 0.709 0.466 0.478 0.475 0.457 0.337
Eggs, storage 1 dozen 0.608 0.398 0.412 0.403 0.394 0.271
Milk 1 qt. 0.151 0.118 0.121 0.123 0.123 0.111
Butter, dairy 1 lb. 0.631 0.406 0.417 0.428 0.368 0.272
Butter, creamery 1 lb. 0.696 0.448 0.461 0.470 0.405 0.300
Cheese, old 1 lb. 0.406 0.318 0.329 0.334 0.318 0.251
Cheese, new 1 lb. 0.383 0.318 0.329 0.334 0.318 0.251
Bread, plain white 1 lb. 0.093 0.076 0.077 0.078 0.075 0.062
Flour, family 1 lb. 0.079 0.053 0.052 0.051 0.047 0.033
Rolled oats 1 lb. 0.084 0.058 0.063 0.064 0.061 0.050
Rice, good medium 1 lb. 0.164 0.110 0.105 0.104 0.101 0.092
Beans, hand picked 1 lb. 0.117 0.079 0.089 0.115 0.094 0.061
Apples, evaporated 1 lb. 0.286 0.200 0.210 0.213 0.206 0.178
Prunes, medium 1 lb. 0.270 0.158 0.135 0.141 0.155 0.121
Sugar, granulated 1 lb. 0.197 0.079 0.079 0.073 0.068 0.062
Sugar, yellow 1 lb. 0.185 0.075 0.075 0.069 0.065 0.060
Tea, black 1 lb. 0.644 0.719 0.713 0.704 0.628 0.552
Tea, green 1 lb. 0.672 0.719 0.713 0.704 0.628 0.552
Coffee 1 lb. 0.608 0.612 0.607 0.604 0.572 0.492
Potatoes 1 pk. 0.080 0.436 0.258 0.291 0.355 0.172
Vinegar, white wine 1 pt. 0.080 0.080 0.080 0.080 0.080 0.080
All foods, weekly budget1 $ 15.99 11.21 11.04 11.34 10.96 8.49
Starch, laundry 1 lb. 0.144 0.124 0.123 0.123 0.123 0.120
Fuel and lighting
Coal, anthracite 1 ton 17.040 17.392 16.272 16.192 16.112 16.064
Coal, bituminous 1 ton 12.380 10.311 10.113 10.080 10.064 9.840
Wood, hard, best 1 cord 13.090 12.195 12.077 12.208 12.176 11.696
Wood, soft 1 cord 10.140 8.947 8.937 8.800 8.672 8.560
Coal oil 1 gallon 0.365 0.308 0.311 0.311 0.309 0.291
Rent
Rent 1 month 24.80 27.43 27.67 27.92 28.16 27.80
Grand total, weekly budget $ 25.91 21.47 21.27 21.61 21.29 18.66
Source: Statistics Canada, Canada Year Book, 1937.

First glance at those prices and we are all like “YEAH BUDDY!” Those prices are great! But try feeding say, 5 or 6 mouths on just one of those salaries…actually, lets do it! Lets figure this out and do some maths for the 1920s column…

 

 

So lets assume a fairly ‘average’ family of 5…Two adults and three children (probably between 4-8).

We’ll use current recommended servings to give us some easy numbers, especially considering the portions we eat now are much larger than in the past. We will use just the ingredients listed on the chart, with the exception of fruits & vegetables, in which case we’ll assume veggies are coming from a kitchen garden and fruit from backyard trees/bushes/neighbor surplus gifts because produce prices fluctuated so greatly.

Breakfast:

Oatmeal with milk, bacon, and fruit

 

Oatmeal: Current ‘Recommended Serving’ = 1 cup

5.04 Cups in 1 lb of Oatmeal

{So lets say a 5 lb bag of Oatmeal for a week}

$0.08 per lb x 5 lbs = $0.40 / week

 

Milk: Current ‘Recommended Serving’ = 1 cup

4 cups in 1 quart

For 1 cup x 1 daily x 5 people x 7 days = 9 quarts

$0.15 / quart x 9 quarts in a week =  $1.35

 

Bacon: Current ‘Recommended Serving: = 16g

453.6g in a lb / 16g = 28.35 / 5 people = 5.67 servings each

$0.559=$0.60 x 1lb = $0.60 / week

 

Fruit: Home grown/ gifted by neighbor (for simplicity sake)

Therefore: Breakfast for 1 week for a family of 5 costs: $2.35

 

Lunch:

Egg & Cheese Sandwich on White Bread

(I would say home made/cheaper whole grain bread but it/ingredients isn’t/arent listed above)

*{also, if you have never enjoyed the delectable satisfaction that is a buttery crunchy squishy melty toasted egg & cheese sandwich, we can’t be friends until you do}*

 

Bread: Average slice = 25g = 2 slices = 50g

453.6g in a lb / 50g = 9.0 sammiches per lb of bread

$0.09 / lb / 9 servings = $0.01 per sammich

$0.01 x 5 people x 7 days = $0.35 for a week

 

Eggs: (using what I think most people would probably eat regardless of a sammich or making eggs for breakfast)

2/adult & 1/child = 7/meal x 7 days = 4 dozen per week

$0.71 x 4 = $2.84 for a week of eggs

 

Cheese: Current ‘Recommended Serving’ = 50g

453.6g in a lb / 50g = 9 servings per lb of cheese

$0.40 / lb / 9 servings per lb = $0.04 per serving

$0.04 x 5 people x 7 days = $1.40 for a week of cheese

 

Butter: *see calculations below*

$0.02 x 5 people x 7 days = $0.70

 

Fruit or vegetables (home grown/gifted)

 

Therefore: Lunch for 1 week for a family of 5 costs: $5.29

 

Dinner: 

I’m just going to do a mix n’ match here, since dinner tends to vary just a touch more than breakfast or lunch…

 

Chuck Roast: Current ‘Recommended Serving’ = 75g

453.6g in a lb / 75g = 6 servings / lb

$0.25 / 6 = $0.04 x 5 people = $0.20 per meal

 

Pork Roast = Current ‘Recommended Serving’ = 75g

453.6g in a lb / 75g = 6 servings / lb

$0.40 / 6 = $0.60 x 5 people = $0.33 per meal

 

Mutton Roast: Current ‘Recommended Serving’ = 75g

453.6g in a lb / 75g = 6 servings / lb

$0.35 / 6 = $0.058 x 5 people = $0.29 per meal

 

Rice: Current ‘Recommended Serving’ = 1/2 cup dry = 100g

453.6g in a lb / 100g = 4.5 servings / lb

$0.16 / 4.5 = $0.035 per serving

$0.035 x 5 people = $0.175 = $0.18 per meal

 

Potatoes: Current ‘Recommended Serving’ = 1 cup = 225g

453.6g in a lb / 225g = 2 servings / lb of potato

$0.63 / pkg (1pk = 10lbs potatoes) *i had to go find this another place because the chart above doesn’t include amount*

4535.92g in 10 lbs / 225g = 20.15 servings / pkg

$0.63 / 20.15 = $0.03 per serving x 5 people = $0.15 per meal

 

Assuming vegetables garden grown/free gift 

So add up your last meal as you see fit, again the chart doesn’t include misc. baking supplies so to do up biscuits/dumplings/home made bread to accompany dinner.

 

NOW… for some misc. supplies…

 

White Flour: $0.79 / lb

453.6g in a lb / 125g per cup = 3.6 cups in a lb

$0.79 / 3.6 = $0.22 per cup

 

Sugar:

Granulated = $0.197 / lb

Yellow (raw) = $0.185 / lb

453.6g in a lb

Granulated = 200g / cup = 2.268 cups per lb = $0.081 per cup = $0.08 per cup

Yellow (raw) = 250g / cup = 1.8144 cups per lb = $0.101 per cup = $0.10 per cup

 

Tea:

1 serving = 4 g

453.6g in a lb / 4g = 113.4 servings

Black Tea = $0.644 / lb = $0.0056 per serving = $0.01 per serving

Green Tea = $0.672 / lb = $0.0059 = $0.01 per serving

 

Coffee:

1 serving = 7-10g per one serving

Therefore: per 8.5g

453.6g in a lb / 8.5g = 53.36 servings per lb

Coffee = $0.608 / lb = $0.011 per serving = $0.01 per serving

 

 

Prunes: (with all the bread/potatoes in the 1920s diets these would of been…essential…? welcome?)

1 serving = ~25g

453.6g in a lb / 25g = 18.144 servings per lb

Prunes = $0.270 / lb = $0.014 per serving = $0.01 per serving

 

Butter:

1tbsp = 14.18g

453.6g in a lb / 14.18g = 31.99 = 32 tbsp per lb

Butter = 0.631 per lb / 32 tbsp = $0.019 per tbsp = $0.02 per tbsp

 

So this is pretty interesting! [providing all my maths skills are accurate, that is…] Yikes that is a lot of math. I haven’t had to do that in a long time! haha! And this is just for food!

We haven’t actually touched rent or mortgages yet!

The above chart states that rent was about 25 per month. Purchasing a home is a little different, but it was pretty cool looking at the cost of the kit homes at the time. HERE is a link to a website that lists a bunch of Sears Roebuck kit homes, ranging in size/price from just a couple hundred dollars all the way up to a couple thousand, and then your property purchase on top of that.

So maybe in the grand scheme, through all this time, things really haven’t changed all that much?

What is something you have noticed dramatic changes in pricing on? Essentials or regular things you buy? or occasionals/treats? we want to hear from you!