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villa66

1885: Europe on 50 (American) cents a day.

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villa66

With apologies, because of the complicated subject matter, in this thread I’ll usually be posting in English only. But please, any and all contributions are very welcome, no matter how expressed. :D

 

How coins actually worked is an aspect of the hobby that really interests a lot of us. For me, personally, travel guidebooks have been a special source of good information about how modern coins get used.

 

In a second-hand store some time ago I found an old book that was in terrible shape. But boy is it useful to anyone curious about prices (and thus coin usage) in Europe about 1885 or so:

 

A TRAMP TRIP (How to see Europe on Fifty Cents a Day), written in 1886 by Lee Meriwether and published in 1887 by Harper & Brothers of New York.

 

 

post-12167-0-59403300-1442351210.jpg

 

 

I’m just beginning to read it closely. A quick look, however, reveals a rough itinerary: Italia, Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, Prussia, France, England. Not all of these places were destinations—and there isn’t much detail on some of them. For others, though…

 

Italia was a destination of author Meriwether, so I’ll start with this first extract—which is useful too because it injects a bit of real-world back-and-forth into the question of contemporary prices. That is, prices—and so coin-use—often are very different depending on the person, etc.

   

About the following, which is intended to give the reader a feel for how “bargaining” worked in Italia:

 

1) “soldo” and its plural “soldi” were obsolete coins in the Italian kingdom, but whose colloquial use was nevertheless continued, and applied to the 5-centesimi denomination for many years thereafter.

2) “cent” and “cents” here refer to American currency, which at the time exchanged at 20 cents = 1 lira.

 

Mr. Meriwether, in Napoli at the time:

 

----------------------------------------------

 

“This system is annoying, but with experience comes wisdom. And then the tricks of roguish shopkeepers are rather amusing than otherwise. I stepped up one day to one of the numerous lemonade stands that adorn the Piazzas of Italian cities, and said to the vendor,

 

‘How much for lemonade?’

 

I knew very well the regular price was one cent per glass, but I wanted to play with the fellow. He looked at me sharply, calculating how green I was and how much I could stand.

 

‘Cinque soldi’ (five cents), he said.

 

‘Five soldi,’ I repeated, as if almost of a mind to buy; then, drawing back: ‘No, signore, too dear, I cannot pay it.’

 

‘Too dear? No very cheap. It is fine lemonade. Come, cinque soldi.’

 

‘No; too dear.’

 

‘Ah, sainted Maria, what do you wish? Four soldi?’

 

‘Still too dear.’

 

‘Three?’

 

‘No, one. I will give you one soldo.’

 

‘What, one soldo? One soldo? My God in heaven! It is nothing; but take it, signore, take it. I lose, but you can take it,’ and he proceeded to pour out the lemonade.

 

In this the reader has a picture of bargaining in Italy.”

 

-----------------------------------------------

 

Circulating in Italia at the time would have been this 1861m 5-centesimi (“soldo”). It was coined in Milano up north, but in 1885 it could very easily have worked its way down to Napoli many years before.

 

 

post-12167-0-35925300-1442351135.jpgpost-12167-0-77045300-1442351152.jpg

 

 

Where it might have bought Mr. Meriwether his glass of lemonade….

 

:) v.

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uzifox

Wonderful! :D

 

At the time this other 5 centesimi could be a very common circulating coin in Napoli  too... (N = Napoli mint)

 

And If you don't know I show you a really 100% "1 soldo = 5 Cent" coin.   :D

 

Saluti

Simone

 

PS One doubt: "calculating how green I was" = "calculating how RICH I was" ?

post-1512-0-92239800-1442388801_thumb.jp

post-1512-0-24896300-1442388809_thumb.jp

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giulira
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Wonderful! :D

 

At the time this other 5 centesimi could be a very common circulating coin in Napoli  too... (N = Napoli mint)

 

And If you don't know I show you a really 100% "1 soldo = 5 Cent" coin.   :D

 

Saluti

Simone

 

PS One doubt: "calculating how green I was" = "calculating how RICH I was" ?

green in questo caso vuol dire acerbo-credulone-neofita-fesso e si usa molto in inglese.

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nikita_
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Scusate, ma io ho bisogno della traduzione, anche se maccheronica :D

Con le scuse, a causa della materia complessa, in questo thread io di solito pubblicherò in solo in inglese. Ma, per favore, qualsiasi e tutti i contributi sono benvenuti, non importa quanto espresso.

Come monete effettivamente lavorate è un aspetto di questo hobby che interessa davvero un sacco di noi. Per me, personalmente, guide di viaggio sono stati una fonte speciale di buone informazioni su come monete moderne abituarsi.

In un negozio di seconda mano qualche tempo fa ho trovato un vecchio libro che era in condizioni terribili. Ma il ragazzo è utile a chiunque curioso di prezzi (e quindi l'utilizzo della moneta) in Europa circa 1885 o giù di lì:

UN VIAGGIO TRAMP (Come vedere l'Europa in cinquanta centesimi al giorno), scritto nel 1886 da Lee Meriwether e pubblicati nel 1887 da Harper & Brothers di New York.

Sto solo cominciando a leggerlo attentamente. Un rapido sguardo, tuttavia, rivela un itinerario di massima: Italia, Svizzera, Austria, Baviera, Bulgaria, Turchia, Russia, Prussia, Francia, Inghilterra. Non tutti questi luoghi sono stati destinazioni, e non c'è molto particolare su alcuni di essi. Per gli altri, anche se ...

Italia è stata una destinazione di autore Meriwether, quindi inizierò con questo primo estratto, il che è utile anche perché si inietta un po 'di mondo reale avanti e indietro nella questione dei prezzi attuali. Cioè, prezzi-e così coin-utilizzo, spesso sono molto diversi a seconda della persona, etc.

A proposito di quanto segue, che ha lo scopo di dare al lettore un'idea di come "la contrattazione" ha lavorato in Italia:

1) "soldo" e il suo plurale "soldi" erano monete obsolete nel regno italiano, ma il cui uso colloquiale è stata tuttavia continuato, e applicati alla denominazione di 5 centesimi per molti anni successivi.

2) "cent" e "centesimi" qui si riferiscono alla valuta americana, che al momento scambiato a 20 centesimi = 1 lira.

Mr. Meriwether, a Napoli, al momento:

Questo sistema è fastidioso, ma con l'esperienza arriva la saggezza. E poi i trucchi dei negozianti roguish sono piuttosto divertente che altrimenti. Ho fatto un passo un giorno ad uno dei numerosi stand limonata che adornano il piazze delle città italiane, e disse al venditore,

'Quanto vuoi per limonata?'

Sapevo molto bene il prezzo regolare era un centesimo per il vetro, ma ho voluto giocare con i compagni. Mi guardò bruscamente, calcolando come verde ero e quanto potevo sopportare.

'Cinque soldi' (cinque centesimi), ha detto.

'Cinque soldi,' ho ripetuto, come se quasi di una mente di acquistare; poi, tirandosi indietro: 'No, signore, troppo cara, non posso pagare.'

'Troppo cara? Non molto a buon mercato. È limonata bene. Vieni, cinque soldi. '

'No; troppo cara '.

'Ah, sainted Maria, che cosa vuoi? Quattro soldi? '

'Ancora troppo cara.'

'Tre?'

'Nessuno. Vi darò un soldo '.

'Che cosa, un soldo? Un soldo? Mio Dio in cielo! Non è niente; ma prenderlo, signore, prenderlo. Perdo, ma la faccio ', e ha proceduto a versare la limonata.

In questo il lettore ha un quadro della contrattazione in Italia.

Che circola in Italia, al momento sarebbe stato questo 1861m 5 centesimi ("soldo"). E 'stato coniato a Milano a nord, ma nel 1885 potrebbe facilmente aver lavorato la sua strada fino a Napoli molti anni prima.

Dove potrebbe aver comprato il signor Meriwether suo bicchiere di limonata ....

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luke_idk
Supporter

 

‘No; too dear.’

 

 

Sorry for my silly thought about that.

 

Old usage of this word's very interesting. :D

 

There's a kind of joke, using web-based translator..

 

Dear Jane --> translation in Italian --> Cara Jane --> backversion in English --> Expensive Jane :D 

 

Until XIX century dear was used to mean expensive, too like in Italian. Quite strange

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luke_idk
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@@nikita_ il fatto è che la parola dear, oggi non si usa più nel senso di costosa, bensì nel senso usato nelle lettere (cara Jane). Nel XIX secolo si usava ancora come in italiano

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nikita_
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Quindi un "amico caro" per loro significava un "amico costoso"... :crazy:

 

:good:

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villa66

@@uzifox    Saluti,

 

Nice Napoli-zecca 1862! And the Papal States soldo/5-centesimi—I’ll definitely get that into my notebook as an example of the two coins’ coexistence—grazie! (Hope I have one….)

 

About the sense “green” takes here, guilira was correct, of course: rookie, newbie, neophyte, etc. But I see why your doubt, since “green” in the U.S. is also used to mean money—and dollars were often called “lettuce.”

 

I note that Meriwether did say the vendor had looked to see how rich he was, when he said “He looked at me sharply, calculating…how much I could stand.”

 

And I have a couple of questions of my own, about the Papal States soldo/5-centesimi. Did these coins circulate throughout the Kingdom? Can anyone say how long they circulated?

 

;) v.

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villa66

Sorry for my silly thought about that.

 

Old usage of this word's very interesting. :D

 

There's a kind of joke, using web-based translator..

 

Dear Jane --> translation in Italian --> Cara Jane --> backversion in English --> Expensive Jane :D

 

Until XIX century dear was used to mean expensive, too like in Italian. Quite strange

 

Thanks for this, luke. The old language is one of the reasons I didn't want to subject this to an online translator myself (some of it is quite jarring to a 21st century English-speaker); and there are other complications too, one of which is the sloppiness of the online translator where concerns quotation marks--critical to understanding who is saying what, when.

 

Another potential problem concerns the personal observations the author includes in the book. From what I have seen already I think the guy is pretty fair-minded. Nevertheless, some of his opinions are problematic--the Swiss don't seem to come off particularly well, for one--and so I want to keep a tight grip on what I myself include here. (No telling what sort of trouble the online translator might get me into!

 

I hope you'll stay close....

 

;) v.

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villa66

Mr. Meriwether continued as some length about the Italian custom of bargaining, invoked “Baedeker, the great guide-book man,” and said that he “advises his readers to give one-third of the price demanded.”

 

Meriwether was of the opinion that Baedecker didn’t go far enough, and—expressing some pique at having to fight his way through multiple layers of shifting prices—said it “would hardly be exaggeration to say that the man at the post-office who sells stamps is about the only man who does not expect a fee and does not have two prices for his goods. The stamp-man, for a wonder, asks always the same price for stamps—five [u.S.]cents for stamps (Italian, “franco-bolli”) for foreign postage,

 

 

post-12167-0-87565900-1442732896.jpg

 

 

[and] four [u.S.] cents for letters within the kingdom, Sicily, and the other islands included.”

 

 

post-12167-0-58797300-1442750824.jpg

 

 

Note that in 1885 Meriwether could have been using coppers to buy his 25-centesimi (international mail) and 20-centesimi (domestic mail) worth of postage stamps, but he probably wasn’t using these 20-centesimi pieces, because they were then in the terminal phase of an official withdrawal begun a couple of years earlier.

 

 

post-12167-0-60493300-1442732913.jpgpost-12167-0-01180800-1442732937.jpg

 

 

Why they were withdraw from circulation I cannot say for sure, but I can guess that they were too small to be handy in everyday use. The value of the metal certainly wasn’t the problem—the price of silver had crashed because of the large quantities of silver being produced in the American West, and the large quantity of silver freed by the German Empire’s Great Recoinage (and adoption of a gold standard).

 

:) v.

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villa66

Here, again in contemporary coin, is what Mr. Meriwether said it cost him to live in Napoli each day; we’ll look at his breakdown of the total tomorrow….

 

post-12167-0-10352500-1442733284.jpg

 

:) v.

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vathek1984

Quindi una lira e 5 centesimi...compreso l'albergo ed il mangiare? Non male in effetti per vivere a Napoli...per gli USA immagino che l'equivalente fosse sui 22 cents circa...

 

Penso che questa interessante discussione possa essere una bella occasione per rivedere anche una di quelle tue splendide cartoline con le valute ed il cambio dei vari stati nel periodo ricompreso tra fine '800 ed inizio '900...quella dell'Italia ovviamente... ;)

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villa66

Thanks, vathek, for reminding me of the postcards. ;) I’ll see if I can make a place for a couple or three of them later on.

 

Here’s the breakdown for the L1,05 daily expenditure that Meriwether reports for his stay in Napoli.

 

2 notes: 1) Meriwether was living nearly as frugally as he could (although he did enjoy some small luxuries), and his stay in Napoli extends many weeks, apparently, so his expenses—and these prices—begin to approach the cost of living experienced by local folks; and 2) a few of the items below (milk, wine and lodging) will get a little more discussion.

 

Finocchio, Meriwether says, is “a kind of celery, wholesome and good.”

 

Anyway, the cost of 24 hours in Napoli for a poor (but single!) man about 1885:

 

Bread (1 pound) 3 cents……........15 centesimi

Macaroni (plate)  3 cents…….......15 centesimi

Figs (1/2 pound)    2 cents…........10 centesimi

Finocchio   2 cents………………....10 centesimi

Wine    3 cents……………………....15 centesimi

Milk  (bowl) 4 cents………………………20 centesimi

 

Total for food each day   17 cents…………………………..85 centesimi

 

Lodging   4 cents…………………..20 centesimi

 

Total daily cost of living in Napoli   21 cents………….1 lira, 5 centesimi

 

 

post-12167-0-07150900-1442801648.jpg

 

:) v.

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villa66

Meriwether—like many travelers—was translating his spending in centesimi and lire into the coins and currency he was familiar with back home, in this case, cents and dollars. When he calculated that he was spending 21 cents American every day he was in Napoli, it’s very possible that something like this picture was in his mind:

 

post-12167-0-21173200-1442816553.jpg

 

But I have to flip the 1-cent over, because he would have been very much at home with the image, and it surely must have come to him automatically when he thought of the things in terms of American cents.… (Well, all that, and the plain fact that Indian Head cents are just fun to look at!)

 

post-12167-0-54950500-1442816511.jpgpost-12167-0-57332500-1442816526.jpg

 

:D v.

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vathek1984

Fantastica discussione...:D

E ci stai mostrando delle belle monete nel frattempo...

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villa66

Just to reintroduce this thread, I found a wonderful old book—in terrible shape but very useful--A TRAMP TRIP (How to see Europe on Fifty Cents a Day), written in 1886 by Lee Meriwether and published in 1887 by Harper & Brothers of New York.

 

And again with apologies, because of the complicated subject matter, in this thread I’ll usually be posting in English only. But please, any and all contributions are very welcome, no matter how expressed. :D

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Mr. Meriwether is still in Italia, still in Napoli…

 

“In Naples there are no dairies, no milkman to wake you at 6 A.M. with a big bell…Instead, men walk from street to street leading cows by strings, and when a customer comes the cow-man stops and milks the desired quantity. I purchased a small tin bucket, and every morning and evening took a short stroll until I saw a man with a cow, from whom I got a quart of milk, and on this, with bread and figs, made an economical and nutritious meal. One would imagine this method would absolutely preclude surreptitious watering of the milk. I thought so, but soon found my mistake.

 

“I noticed the milk I drank was peculiarly thin, yet, as I had stood by while it was milked I was at a loss to understand the cause. Could it be that the cows drank too much water? One day the mystery was explained. It happened that when I came across my cow-man he was milking for an Italian. I was surprised when I saw the Italian suddenly step up and squeeze the cow-man’s arm, and still more surprised when, as a result thereof, I saw a stream of water spurt from the cow-man’s sleeve.

 

“I mentioned this incident to the American consul, who told me it was a very common trick. Cow-men keep a bag of water under their coats, letting it down into the milk through a rubber tube concealed in the sleeve. When detected, a shrug of the shoulders, a ‘Santa Maria, what difference?’ is the cool reply; when not detected, the Neapolitan cow-man silently laughs as he squirts water through his sleeve and sells it to you at six cents a quart.”

 

….Mr. Meriwether is talking in terms of American money and American measures for the convenience of his readers…6 (U.S.) cents per quart (liter) of milk, but he was actually spending 30 centesimi, perhaps like this:

 

post-12167-0-88115200-1460078869.jpg

 

……………………………………………………………………….

 

But this is no mere story of Italian cheating—oh no—because what I omitted was Mr. Meriwether’s mention of how it was done in America….

 

“In Naples there are no dairies [as in America], no milkman to waken you at 6 A.M. with a big bell [as in America], and sell you a quart of milk-and-water for nine cents [as in America]. Instead….”

 

In the United States of 1885, Mr. Meriwether suggests, the watering of the milk is factory-done :D , and for that quart (liter) of milk-and-water, an American might tender his or her 9 cents this way:

 

post-12167-0-65583100-1460078545.jpg

 

Or:

 

post-12167-0-56904300-1460078576.jpg

 

Or:

 

post-12167-0-88827500-1460078599.jpg

 

Or:

 

post-12167-0-90417700-1460078616.jpg

 

 

:D v.

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vathek1984

Molto interessante anche questo pezzo del racconto...ed ho notato un bel palancone del 1863 per Parigi, oltre a moltissime splendide monete degli USA... :good:

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