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February 2003


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Bob Arnold <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 14 Feb 2003 08:18:41 -0500
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As something to look at for a sense of the economy of the Low Countries, is Van Wie's great study of the late medieval/early modern period in The Great Antwerp Market, which I believe he compiled in the 1930's. Two volumes, I think and not always easy to find. I do know that SUNY-Oneonta's library had a copy, which I used long ago when I was a grad student there.

>>> [log in to unmask] 02/13/03 09:26AM >>>
There have been a number of guesses, mostly made during the late 1800s, as to
what the median per capita income was in the New Netherland area. None were
documented as to how they were arrived at, and unfortunately, I cannot locate
my records on the subject as I recently moved them and do not have them
sorted out. The one that I favor is a median income of 300 Florins per year,
around the year 1650. This is an inflated Florin, as at the same time it was
estimated that in Holland the average income was 50 Florins.

The whole issue is clouded as the New Netherland residents did use the Indian
bead money, wampum or sewant, at various exchange rates as currency. And,
many colonists were in sewant making business, somewhat like counterfeiting.
Continued clouding is the barter system using beaver skins as money, as the
Florin was in short supply.

If the true cost was in Florins, then the price was very inflated because of
the scarcity of hard money. Most likely the cost was in Florins, or their

So, if you figure that the median income today, for New York State, is around
$45,000. per year (or whatever the last census put it at) then you could come
up with an approximation of the costs of items back then.

David Baker
Historian, Town of Hurley