What is today’s relative value of a Boston estate in 1846?

QUESTION: I love your website and refer to it often. I use it for translating wealth in genealogical research, along with other metrics. For example, in individual’s estate was valued at $50,000 in 1846, Boston MA. What would that estate ‘feel like’ to a modern reader? Your range of equivalent values was so great that I took another tact. I researched ALL of the estates probated in that year in a quick and dirty survey. Turns out that the $50k estate was in the top 10% of probated estates that year, and one recognizes that MOST estates of the time had no real estate, i.e. only personal goods passed to family members. Therefore, this estate was in the top 10% of the top 20% of households. I gave it a “feels like” value of $25 million in today’s dollars. It’s a sum that makes one ‘rich’ but not at the top of the heap by any means. If you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them. Translating for modern impact is hard!

ANSWER: An inflation calculator would give you a real price of $1.6 million, clearly way off.  The income value is $29 million. Which make some sense.  But I like your technique better. What you are doing is taking the relative value of houses and that makes much more sense that using some other index such as the CPI.

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