Dates and money of the time often seem irrelevant until they are put into perspective or compared with modern day living so when I read that the total collection for November 1908 was £27, 17 shillings and 2 1/2 pence, this prompted me to find out what this would equate to in today’s money i.e. how much would this equate to if the collection took place now.
The result was surprising;
The collection for November in New Ardrossan Church was the equivalent of £1,475.48 ($2,136.37 US Dollars). That seems to me to be a huge sum for a relatively poor parish.
So this roused my curiosity even further. Now I was keen to find out
How much money did people have in 1908 and what did / could they spend it on? Here is what I came up with;
- The average worker in the UK made £70 per year (compared to the average worker in the USA who made between $200 and $400 per year).
- A pint of beer in the pub cost a penny.
- Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo (Borax was a multi-purpose household cleaner which was actually mildly toxic to children and pets if consumed. It could also kill plants in high doses and in humans caused skin, eye and respiratory irritation.)
- 2 out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write.
- More than 95% of all births took place at home.
- Only 14% of homes had a bathtub.
- Only 8% of homes had a telephone.
- The average life expectancy in 1908 was 47 years. The five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
4. Heart disease
- The 1908 Olympic Games were held in London and you could see the Opening Day Ceremony for as little as 12p.
- Ernest Shackleton set sail from New Zealand on the Nimrod (pictured setting sail) for Antarctica in January of this year.
- In September of this year, Henry Ford produced his first Model T car in Detroit, Michigan. Around 50,000 people owned a car in the UK in 1908 (an average car cost around £400) and petrol cost just 4.7p per litre. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10mph.
- The first ever long-distance radio message was sent from the Eiffel Tower – the tallest structure in the world at the time.
- The American flag still only had 46 stars (after Oklahoma joined the USA on November 16, 1907 there came New Mexico on January 6, 1912 making 47 stars; Arizona on February 14, 1912 making 48 stars; Alaska on January 3, 1959 making 49 stars and finally Hawaii on August 21, 1959 making the 50th star / state – hence the “Hawaii 50” title of the TV series).
- Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at the local pharmacy. Pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.“
- There were about 230 reported murders in the whole of America in 1908, despite it still being known for its ‘Wild West’ (although technically, the West coast of America was relatively tamed by the turn of the century).
- In November of 1908, Wild West bandits Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (pictured in real life and in the movie blockbuster) were reported as being killed in Bolivia after being surrounded by a large group of soldiers.
Changed days, eh?