Friday, June 18, 2010

Luncheon Counters of the Third Kind

My friend Bob from sent me this menu today with one of those "remember when?" emails that go around. I do remember eating at a Woolworth luncheon counter as a kid. Note the prices.

Then I got thinking about the prices.  I've been watching the price of silver and gold, and it occurred to me to compare some of them.  This menu is from around 1960, when our coins were still 90% silver.  You can easily figure out what these prices turn into at today's prices, with silver closing at $19.17/oz.  The face value of a dollar in silver coins today is $13.61.  So that "Super Deluxe Ham Sandwich" at 40cents is $5.45 in today's money, and the king sized coke $1.36.  Not bad.  The triple decker chicken salad sandwich would be $8.85.  To me, that's a bit much for a chicken salad sandwich.  The first Burger King whopper I ever saw cost 29 cents - $3.95 in today's money. When you look at it in terms of silver as a standard, the cost of food hasn't changed that much.  It's the dollar that has gotten worth less, due to the relentless inflation caused by the Federal Reserve.  It is worth 1/13.61 - just over 7% - of what it was worth 50 years ago.   

Here's how you convert: a dollar in face value is 0.71 Troy ounce for 1964 and earlier 90% silver coins.  Just multiply that times the closing price in dollars/ounce (always priced in Troy ounces).

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