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Thread: 10,000 a year?

  1. #1
    Registered User jinjang's Avatar
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    10,000 a year?

    When you read Jane Austen, you often hear people say 5,000 a year or 10,000 a year as if that is any measure of how rich a person is. What exactly does the annual sum of 10,000 a year equal to in our time?
    Walk, meditate, forget - Victor Hugo
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  2. #2
    DON'T PANIC! Tsuyoiko's Avatar
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    10,000 in the early 19th century must have been the equivalent of several hundred thousand today.

    Some comparisons can be found here:

    http://www.likesbooks.com/money.html

    I think the average salary in the UK today is about 25,000.
    Last edited by Tsuyoiko; 07-02-2009 at 04:47 AM.
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  3. #3
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Two interesting links for everyone in future:


    http://www.georgianindex.net/banking.../expenses.html

    The one above is specifically for the Georgian era and comparisons within that perod. Unfortunately, it stops in 1998.

    http://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/

    The above only starts in 1830 and ends in 2007, so the Georgian era is nt included, but by putting the two links together,you get somewhere.

    Just indexing Darcy's income would give an amount of 544,343.96 pounds as yearly income.

    The amount according to average earnings is even higher. But if we presume that his purchasing power just stayed the same although people might have started to earn more from 1811 up to now, it is the amount above.
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    Registered User jinjang's Avatar
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    Thank you both, kiki1982 and Tsuyoiko, very much! The links are very useful. I do not know why I did not think of searching it online myself, but then why bother? There is always some one else who will do it for you.

    I thought Mr. Darcy would be a billionaire. The annual sum of 10,000 pounds does not include his extensive estates. I guess he may well be in our modern time a billionaire.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    I enjoyed reading the site. It would take some time for me to get used to counting money in GB. I heard most of the units, but I have never heard of others like tanner or groat. It is most interesting, I must say.
    Last edited by jinjang; 07-02-2009 at 03:40 PM.
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  5. #5
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Nono, you don't have to see it like that, Jinjang!

    In my experience (if that is a lot) a fortune was estimated on whatever you had (money in cash, bonds, stocks, estates, valuables and what-not). In my mind, the cash you had maybe in bonds, stocks or whatever (yes even then there was the stock market where rich men deposited their money) generated you an income. However, also an estate or a house could mean an implied income. But that is mostly quite small compared to the rest of the riches. I can imagine Darcy having sheep, growing wheat and renting out farms, besides also growing his own stuff, but that would be nothing compared to his cash income.

    I believe the average long-term interest rate was 5%. So, based on that alone, Darcy's income of 10,000 pounds a year is staggering, as his fortune then would be 200,000 pounds in money then, which would mean (according to the results before) an amount of 10,886,879.2 (modern) pounds in total. Although there is probably a small amount of that money that is stuck in the estate, the fortune is so massive, he probably doesn't even notice.

    We should remember that the people whom Austen wrote about were people of leisure, people who did not work for a living, and so their 'income' is the yearly interest of their fortunes. So, there is always a little calculation to do... and that's probably what happened in Mrs Bennet's brain straight away...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    In my experience (if that is a lot) a fortune was estimated on whatever you had (money in cash, bonds, stocks, estates, valuables and what-not). In my mind, the cash you had maybe in bonds, stocks or whatever (yes even then there was the stock market where rich men deposited their money) generated you an income. However, also an estate or a house could mean an implied income. But that is mostly quite small compared to the rest of the riches. I can imagine Darcy having sheep, growing wheat and renting out farms, besides also growing his own stuff, but that would be nothing compared to his cash income.
    Thanks for explaining this. I was wondering myself what does it mean to have 10,000 a year, since it doesn't seem like he was doing much work.

    How nice it must be to be someone like that during the Regency period.

  7. #7

    Jane Austen

    Of course that is a lot of money compared to today's amount.. It's not to be questioned.. It's been how many years.. but I love reading jane Austen's books.

  8. #8
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I tend to multiply those figures by 100. It works reasonably for middle class characters, which most British C19th literature is about. For poor characters a 100x multiplier does not work so well. Many poor people earned 50 or less per year. 5000 a year would be very difficult to live on. However poor people were really very much poorer then than now, so I still think the 100x factor is useful for bearing in mind how destitute they were. A multiplier of 100x would make Darcy's annual income about 1 million, which is very nice, but no doubt he has a lot of expenses, including the servants' wages.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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