Workers remodeling my home found evidence beneath the floor of the
last remodeling — parts of the Nov. 30 and 31, 1957, issues of The
Here are the prices of some things advertised then and their value
now in inflation-adjusted dollars:
➤ Color TV “as low as” $495. That’s more than $4,000 today.
➤ Men’s Fruit of the Loom T-shirt, 69 cents then; $5.64 today.
➤ Viewmaster, $2.50 then; $20.45 today.
➤ Woman’s printed cotton casual dress, $3.99 then; $32.63 today.
➤ Men’s flannel pants, $6.99 then; $57.17 today.
Here are prices for some coins from the 1962 A Guide Book of
United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman, the values of the coins in
inflation-adjusted dollars and each coin’s 2012 “Red Book” value:
➤ 1606 Sommer Island shilling in Good condition, $150 in 1962;
$1,142 in today’s money; $6,500 current Red Book value.
➤ (1652) New England (NE) shilling in Fine, $435 then; $3,310 in
today’s money; $190,000 current catalog.
➤ Uncirculated 1776 Continental Currency dollar, CURENCY spelling,
in pewter, $285 then; $2,169 today; $70,000 current catalog.
➤ 1792 half disme in Very Fine, $450 then; $3,424 in today’s
money; $75,000 in the 2012 Red Book.
➤ 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, AMERI. cent in Fine, $285 then; $2,168
today; $28,000 current catalog.
➤ 1909-S Lincoln, V.D.B. cent in Good, $50 then; $380 today; $825
➤ 1955-S Lincoln cent in Uncirculated, 40 cents then; $3 in
today’s money; 85 cents current catalog value.
➤ 1903-O Morgan dollar in Uncirculated, $600 then; $4,566 in
today’s money; $400 current catalog value.
Over the past half century, quality coins, especially Colonials,
have outpaced inflation many times over. Some coins, though, didn’t
fare so well.
Every kid trying to fill his blue Whitman folder wanted a 1955-S
cent in 1962, and there were none in circulation. I knew a boy who
found a 1914-D Lincoln cent, but never met anyone who found a 1955-S
cent. Supply and demand eventually equalized. In inflation-adjusted
dollars the coin sells for about one-third of its 1962 price.
The 1903-O Morgan dollar illustrates what happens when a hoard
comes on the market. The coin was prohibitively scarce until the early
1960s when bag upon bag was released by the Treasury Department. It
sells today for about two-thirds of its 1962 price and less than 10
percent of its inflation-adjusted price.
The contractors didn’t find any gold hidden in the walls of our
home, so we had to pay them ourselves in current money.
Gerald Tebben is editor of the Central States Numismatic Society’s Centinel.