Saturday, December 20, 2014

How much money did Bob Cratchit make?

Bob Cratchit made 15 shillings a week.

That would be in today's money  $93.66 a week, or $2.34 an hour at 40 hours a week.
What was a shilling worth at the time of Scrooge?

This web site, All about money | A Christmas Carol: The Scrooge Diaries , says:

"Half-a-crown – 12.5 cents
Shilling – 5 cents
Sixpence – 2.5 cents
Penny – Approximately half a cent
Farthing – Approximately one-tenth of a cent
So when the story mentions Bob’s salary of 15 shillings a week, you can easily see, even at that time, how measly it was. Mrs. Cratchit must have seriously splurged to buy those ribbons on her dress for sixpence. When A Christmas Carol was first published, it sold for 5 shillings a copy, cheaper than many books of the period, but still quite a luxury."

Reproduced from a c.1870s photographer frontis...
Reproduced from a c.1870s photographer frontispiece to Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A Christmas Carol was published on 17 December 1843. 

One Shilling GBP in 1850 had the purchasing power of about £3.80 GBP today, or $5.85.(from this site)  
So, 15 shillings would be £3.80 x 15 = £57 a week, or $89.07. (from this site)
So he would make about $89 a week and $4628 a year, assuming he works every week of the year, which considering Scrooge won't easily let him off for Christmas he probably does work that much.  I doubt very many families could support so many children on that amount. If he worked a 40 hour work week, that would be $2.23 an hour.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Recalculate it to the gold standard, 20 shillings to the pound sterling which was equivalent to a British gold sovereign, and we see Bob earned almost 10 ounces of gold annually (sovereign approximately 1/4 ounce), or 10 US Double Eagles. At $1120 an ounce he made about 11k in dollars annualy

  2. It was a 60 hour week. 10 hours per day, six days per week.

  3. It is interesting to know according to British people at the same time that Bob Cratchit was making 15 Shillings a week the police were also making 15 Shillings in a week so when he double his salary he was being more than generous and given the cleaning lady made whatever she was a Guinea would have been unheard of

    1. In the book, it doesn't say he doubled his salary. Merely that he raised it and that he would help his family however he could. Plus, he had to support 8 people: He, his wife, and his six children.

  4. There was a scarce middle class back then in most of Europe and England....98% were poor...2%--- if even that were wealthy. There was no welfare system there. Being a good neighbor to each other was so very vital to even living during that era. We are all so very spoiled today even if you dont have a lot of money. Even those today receiving welfare aid would be considered near wealthy in 1850's England and such. I grew up with very little in family with money and things, yet was very, very lucky compared to by far most others in 1850 England. Amazing how we take for granted things in life now..and we are all at times guilty of it...and I feel yes, we would have helped Tiny Tim today if we had known about him....some tragedies make people wealthy and it should not be...many of the immediate family survivors of Sept 11 2001 demise are now worth $several million dollars per family.We gave them in just dollar donations in the hundreds of million to help ease their grief and pain. I think I read one lady got over a couple million and it was learned she had no family ties- nothing at all- knew no one that died. It was a big snafu and I think she kept it all after the publicity then moved far away. I do not know how she sleeps at night

  5. Bob had a large famoly and a grievously ill son. $11,000.00 a year wouldn't have been much.

  6. I thought I remembered reading that Bob's older children were employed as well.

    1. His eldest daughter had a job and one of his sons was about to start working. Even if both made as much as their father did (which would be a gross exaggeration considering (1) their age and (2) one was a girl in Victorian England), $33,000 still would be a pittance to support 8 people.