Category Archives: writing resource

writing resource / money in 1900

In the event that it might be useful to another writer or curious person, the site Measuring Worth is a great resource for helping understand the historical value of commodities–such as slaves–and more. There’s an interesting article about the economics of historical slavery here at the site. It was, of course, curiosity about the costs of slaves in modern dollars that led me to Measuring Worth in the first place.

While I say in the GQ books that Martin cost more than any other slave sold that day, and that his sale set a record, I didn’t offer a number. I did go through a process of determining what I felt would be a reasonable (for lack of a better term) amount for a slave with Martin’s attributes and training, but then I thought better of putting a price on a person, even a fictional person. Still, I found the Measuring Worth site really helpful to provide context for the 1900 dollar amounts for all manner of goods and services that I ran across in my research.

The site has data for the US going back to Revolutionary times, for the UK going back to the 13th century, and for Australia from 1828 to the present. They also have limited data on China and Japan.

Food and restaurants in 1900


If you are reading the GQ series, you will no doubt have noticed that there are a lot of mentions of food Henry is eating. He eats huge breakfasts, is presented with lavish smorgasbords at lunch, is served haute Victorian cuisine for dinner, and sneaks downstairs at night for extra cake. He eats large quantities of a great many things, and Martin is just as voracious. I grew up with a skinny brother who did nothing but eat, so it seems entirely realistic to me that teenagers would put away such epic quantities of food without noticeable effect.

FOOD TIMELINE: If you’re a writer, or if you’re just interested in food history, you need to know about the Food Timeline. It was extremely helpful to me whenever I was smart enough to use it. You can find out when people started eating different foods, how they prepared them, and when they became commercially available, among other things.  Continue reading Food and restaurants in 1900