When I read in a Regency about the hero giving a waif a pound, I wonder how much money that Regency pound is today. The worth of money has two parts: its value in today's money, and what you could buy with it then.
According to this calculator: In 1820, £1 0s 0d would have the same spending worth of today's £41.92
For all of us Yanks out there, we now need to translate to US dollars. Yahoo Finance has a Currency Converter. Here, I select US dollar (USD) and British pound (GBP), setting British pound to 41.92.
For September 21, the day I wrote this post, GBP 41.92 equals 67.9086 USD. Since the exchange rate varies from day to day, you will get a different value on another day.
The second part of the National Archives' currency converter, Buying Power, tells you what you could purchase with that Regency pound: Plug in 41.92 pounds in today's money (1 Regency pound) and select the year 1820.
For 1 pound, you could purchase 6 days (craftsman wages in building trade) or the wool from 1 sheep.
What does this mean? One Regency pound was a lot of money. Coins smaller than the sovereign or guinea, which I listed in my last post, could easily handle most day-to-day transactions.
The other important fact is that labor was cheap and commodities, including food, were expensive. A Regency construction worker had to work six days of more than eight hours each to earn enough money for the wool for a suit of clothes.
That Regency lord was very generous, and that waif was very lucky.
Thank you all,