The "Historically Rich" game

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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 12 Jul 2019, 00:26

My theory is that you can't change the past, else it would already have been changed and never mind the multiverse hypothesis. In this universe, even if you could go back in time and bring stuff back to the present, what you wouldn't be able to do is take stuff from one past point in time and drop it off at another to, say, show Kant why Euclidean geometry wasn't necessary but informative truth about the world and spare us all from the Critique of Pure Reason. You couldn't advance the development of science or learning in general any more than you could, say, convince black voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that, yeah, he's going to win if you don't get out and vote for her. But when you get back to your own present, anything you bring back is fair game as far as showing everyone in the present what you've 'discovered.'

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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Warren » 12 Jul 2019, 09:41

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
12 Jul 2019, 00:26
My theory is that you can't change the past, else it would already have been changed and never mind the multiverse hypothesis. In this universe, even if you could go back in time and bring stuff back to the present, what you wouldn't be able to do is take stuff from one past point in time and drop it off at another to, say, show Kant why Euclidean geometry wasn't necessary but informative truth about the world and spare us all from the Critique of Pure Reason. You couldn't advance the development of science or learning in general any more than you could, say, convince black voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that, yeah, he's going to win if you don't get out and vote for her. But when you get back to your own present, anything you bring back is fair game as far as showing everyone in the present what you've 'discovered.'
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by thoreau » 12 Jul 2019, 12:25

If we're going to the past for intellectual curiosity, let's see:
1) Send a team of linguists back in time with recording devices to learn proto-Indo-European and other ancient languages.
2) Collect Newton, Galileo, Michelson, Mach, and Einstein, put them in a room with all the back issues of Physical Review Letters, and then just listen in.
3) Persuade key figures in the history of educational research to do something else. If that doesn't work, kill them in the cradle.
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JD
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by JD » 12 Jul 2019, 15:41

On a vaguely related note, yesterday I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and they had an exhibit, which I unfortunately didn't get to spend too much time at, that explored how much various European art and artifacts were worth at the time they were made. Of course, saying "this was 10 ducats" or "this was 12 florins" doesn't mean too much to modern people, so things were expressed in cows: this tapestry was worth 50 cows; this ornate drinking vessel was worth 2 cows, etc. Mostly I was surprised at how cheap things were in terms of cows, but maybe that meant a cow was worth more than I thought.

For that matter, I don't really know what a cow is worth now. Let's ask Google..."Based on the 2019 budget, slaughter cows (1,200 pounds) are expected to average $50 per hundredweight". Hundredweight in cattle trading seems to refer to the short hundredweight of 100 pounds. (Bizarrely, the imperial "hundredweight" meant 112 pounds.) So 1200 pounds * ( $50 / 100 pounds ) = $600 for a cow. Hmm. Some of those prices actually seem to make more sense now that I think of it that way.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 12 Jul 2019, 16:40

JD wrote:
12 Jul 2019, 15:41
On a vaguely related note, yesterday I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and they had an exhibit, which I unfortunately didn't get to spend too much time at, that explored how much various European art and artifacts were worth at the time they were made. Of course, saying "this was 10 ducats" or "this was 12 florins" doesn't mean too much to modern people, so things were expressed in cows: this tapestry was worth 50 cows; this ornate drinking vessel was worth 2 cows, etc. Mostly I was surprised at how cheap things were in terms of cows, but maybe that meant a cow was worth more than I thought.

For that matter, I don't really know what a cow is worth now. Let's ask Google..."Based on the 2019 budget, slaughter cows (1,200 pounds) are expected to average $50 per hundredweight". Hundredweight in cattle trading seems to refer to the short hundredweight of 100 pounds. (Bizarrely, the imperial "hundredweight" meant 112 pounds.) So 1200 pounds * ( $50 / 100 pounds ) = $600 for a cow. Hmm. Some of those prices actually seem to make more sense now that I think of it that way.
Even talking about medieval values in terms of dollars or cows doesn't really capture how much they were worth (compared to us), because the value of money back then was VASTLY greater than it is now. I don't mean this in any "inflation is eroding the dollar" kind of way, either -- it's more like, in our society, money is a NECESSITY, whereas for medieval people money was (for the most part) a LUXURY. If you're a modern American or westerner, chances are you, personally, have never directly produced a single thing you need in all your life -- if you need a sweater, you don't raise sheep and transform the wool into garments: you acquire money and BUY the sweater. Same goes for food, shelter, and all other necessities and luxuries--we don't produce what we need, we earn money to BUY what we need. Even trade/barter is very rare, outside of things like "This secondhand bookstore will take books in trade if you shop there" -- if you have backyard chickens to give you fresh eggs every day, that's nice, but you can't take those eggs to the supermarket and trade them for other foods, nor will the taxman accept eggs or bushels of grain as payment for taxes.

If you really want to measure the relative value of things across the ages, the best way is not with money or cows, but with time -- how much time would it take a typical person today to either make this item yourself or earn enough money to buy it? If a cow today costs $600, then even a minimum wage worker need work less than 100 hours to buy one. I don't know what it was in the Middle Ages -- but I'd bet an unskilled worker needed to work many times one hundred hours to earn enough for a cow.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 12 Jul 2019, 16:55

Semi-related: there is a scene near the end of Laura Ingalls Wilder's book "Farmer Boy" (a year in the life of an 1850s 9-year-old living on a relatively prosperous farm in far-upstate New York) -- little Almanzo has received a dazzling offer: the town wheelwright (IIRC) has offered to take him in as an apprentice. Almanzo's father discusses the pros and cons with him, and admits that yes, the wheelwright in many ways has a more luxurious life than a farmer. He probably banks more money each year than I do. And on freezing nights he can stay in his cozy bed, rather than be out protecting the crops and livestock from freezing, and here's some other ways a prosperous artisan in town has a more comfy life than a farmer. HOWEVER (said Almanzo's father), the downside is that the wheelwright is not "free and independent" the way a farmer is -- a farmer depends only on himself and the weather, but a wheelwright is dependent on every potential customer. A wheelwright has to be friendly to EVERYONE, whereas Almanzo's father was polite to everyone, but friendly only to people he actually liked. Etc.

When I taught high school, I remember once giving a photocopy of this scene to the students, AFTER I had them brainstorm a list: "In a few years you'll all be considered 'independent adults' in our society (even if you're married to someone) -- what are things 'independent adults' are expected to do, that 'legal minors' do not?" And they came up with the answers I expected -- independent adults pay their own rent or mortgage, buy their own clothes and food, etc. -- then I gave them the Farmer Boy scene and showed them how, from the perspective of an 1850s farmer, NOT ONE of us has ever been 'independent' or has a family who is, and it's unlikely we ever will be either.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 12 Jul 2019, 17:06

Every farmer, as the old saying goes, quickly discovers he's in a partnership with God and God's the senior partner. Also, to the extent farmers could once upon a time claim a certain self-sufficiency that most others could not, he was still dependent on the wheelwright, the mill owner, etc., etc. or else if he did all those things himself his life sucked so badly his independence was hardly a good tradeoff for the hardships and uncertainties he constantly faced. I recently re-watched Jeremiah Johnson, and I suppose a case could be made for "mountain men" of that era being even more independent, but they still needed firearms and ammunition and traps, etc. No man is an island, or so I've read.

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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 12 Jul 2019, 21:11

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
12 Jul 2019, 17:06
Every farmer, as the old saying goes, quickly discovers he's in a partnership with God and God's the senior partner. Also, to the extent farmers could once upon a time claim a certain self-sufficiency that most others could not, he was still dependent on the wheelwright, the mill owner, etc., etc. or else if he did all those things himself his life sucked so badly his independence was hardly a good tradeoff for the hardships and uncertainties he constantly faced. I recently re-watched Jeremiah Johnson, and I suppose a case could be made for "mountain men" of that era being even more independent, but they still needed firearms and ammunition and traps, etc. No man is an island, or so I've read.
Oh, definitely. And even when I read "Farmer Boy" for the first time as a kid, I remember thinking something along the lines of 'Yeah, it would be nice not to have The Teacher or The Boss always telling you what to do [Almanzo's dislike of school was a recurring theme in the book, and when he got the apprenticeship offer one of his first thoughts was that if he did it, he wouldn't have to go to school anymore] -- but on the other hand, if you can't do your work because you get sick, The Teacher will let you stay home from school and make up the work later after you're well, but if a farmer gets sick at harvest time, Mother Nature isn't going to hold off making the crops rot in the fields until you feel better."

But -- going back to what JD said about valuing historic treasures according to their cost in cows -- you still can't make a straight comparison between the value of a cow then, versus the value and utility of a cow nowadays. For most of history, having your own cow really was the best and cheapest way to get dairy products and eventually beef for your family (AND get some valuable products to either trade or sell for "cash money"). Now it isn't -- even if you can buy a healthy young milch cow for less than the cost of what you spend on dairy in a year, you're still better off working for wages (even minimum wage) and using some of that money to buy dairy products, rather than spend the same amount of time caring for the cow and milking it and straining the milk and churning the butter and on and on. Even people rich enough to have servants do everything for them will have the cook buy milk and butter, rather than raise their own by keeping cows on the grounds and have other servants tend them.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 12 Jul 2019, 21:50

Jennifer wrote:
12 Jul 2019, 21:11
Even people rich enough to have servants do everything for them will have the cook buy milk and butter, rather than raise their own by keeping cows on the grounds and have other servants tend them.
With one exception I know of: at least in Connecticut, it's not unusual for people with homes on BIG plots of land to have a few cows or chickens or something, strictly for tax purposes -- IIRC, at the time if you sold $1,000 or more in farm products per year you're legally a farmer, and farm property was taxed at a far, far lower rate than residential property. But that's taking advantage of a tax loophole, not an actual attempt to save money on food costs or earn significant income from food production.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 13 Jul 2019, 22:52

JD wrote:
12 Jul 2019, 15:41
On a vaguely related note, yesterday I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and they had an exhibit, which I unfortunately didn't get to spend too much time at, that explored how much various European art and artifacts were worth at the time they were made. Of course, saying "this was 10 ducats" or "this was 12 florins" doesn't mean too much to modern people, so things were expressed in cows: this tapestry was worth 50 cows; this ornate drinking vessel was worth 2 cows, etc. Mostly I was surprised at how cheap things were in terms of cows, but maybe that meant a cow was worth more than I thought.

For that matter, I don't really know what a cow is worth now. Let's ask Google..."Based on the 2019 budget, slaughter cows (1,200 pounds) are expected to average $50 per hundredweight". Hundredweight in cattle trading seems to refer to the short hundredweight of 100 pounds. (Bizarrely, the imperial "hundredweight" meant 112 pounds.) So 1200 pounds * ( $50 / 100 pounds ) = $600 for a cow. Hmm. Some of those prices actually seem to make more sense now that I think of it that way.
Coincidentally, when I went thrift shopping today, one particular store had a MUCH higher than usual number of cheap glass or metal tchotchkes (mostly candleholders and the like), which I have no use or desire for, but would DEFINITELY make any list of "Stuff I'd buy cheap in the present to sell dear in most of the past." I also saw this one particular goblet which, at first glance and from a distance (without my glasses on), looked like an ornate heavy pewter thing, though on closer inspection it was obviously a cheap plastic decoration from a Halloween store.

Which got me thinking about your two-cow/$1200 ornate drinking vessel, now compared to then: I'm sure we-all here agree that if you're a typical modern American looking for a drinking vessel, even a fancy decorative one, $1,200 is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on one -- and yet most Americans, even poor ones, probably COULD afford a $1,200 bauble if they really wanted one. (They couldn't necessarily afford to buy it RIGHT NOW -- they'd have to save up their money for awhile and make various sacrifices, and it might take a year or two ... but if you were absolutely determined to get one, $1,200 is not utterly and thoroughly "unaffordable" for most people, the way a price like "five million dollars" would be.)

Yet I strongly suspect that for typical non-rich medieval people, that two-cow drinking vessel was a lot closer to "five million dollars" than "$1,200," in terms of how many people or households could actually AFFORD to get one if they really really wanted to.

Quote from a professional essay I once wrote:
in late Elizabethan England (a peaceful and prosperous place by the standards of the day), a single loaf of bread cost twopence (2d), when the average unskilled laborer’s income was only 3 to 4d per day, and 12d per day was the high end of a skilled laborer’s pay scale.

Queen Elizabeth I had an enormous income — 60,000 pounds per year (at 240d to the pound) — but for all her wealth she had no access to basic dental care, which is why foreign ambassadors at the time noted that several of the English Queen’s teeth were missing, and the remainders rotted to pure black.

As for Elizabeth’s subject William Shakespeare, historians think he wrote his plays (at least his early ones) while sitting in a pub — not because writers prefer noisy, distracting environments, not even so he could eat or drink while writing, but because the pubs were illuminated, and lighting was too expensive for ordinary people, let alone struggling writers, to afford much at home.
I know the Elizabethan cost of bread (and writing paper) compared to wages at the time, but I have no idea how many d an Elizabethan would pay for a healthy young cow, or an ornate drinking vessel.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Aresen » 13 Jul 2019, 23:25

Jennifer wrote:
13 Jul 2019, 22:52
I also saw this one particular goblet which, at first glance and from a distance (without my glasses on), looked like an ornate heavy pewter thing, though on closer inspection it was obviously a cheap plastic decoration from a Halloween store.
You just reminded me that quality glass was incredibly expensive in Elizabethan times. Venetians had a secret glassmaking recipe, and Venetian glass was highly prized, but even their best glass was murky by modern standards. IIRC, the secret to making good crystal wasn't known until late in the 17th century. A flat of cheap wineglasses from Costco would be worth a fortune in Elizabethan times.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 14 Jul 2019, 00:35

Aresen wrote:
13 Jul 2019, 23:25
Jennifer wrote:
13 Jul 2019, 22:52
I also saw this one particular goblet which, at first glance and from a distance (without my glasses on), looked like an ornate heavy pewter thing, though on closer inspection it was obviously a cheap plastic decoration from a Halloween store.
You just reminded me that quality glass was incredibly expensive in Elizabethan times.
Not just that, but it was also far more limited than now -- the reason Tudor mansion windows had those tiny diamond-shaped panes is because with the glass-making technology they had, flat transparent window-quality glass could only be made in tiny pieces. (IIRC it was something like, the clear-glass making method involved spinning molten glass into a sort of saucer shape, thick in the center and thinner toward the edges, and only the outermost edges of the saucer were thin and uniform enough to make truly transparent panes. Presumably, the diamond shape was the most efficient way to cut the maximum number of panes from that rather small border of window-quality glass. The centers of the saucers were more like lumpy bottle-bottoms -- light and color could get through, but not a truly accurate shape.)

To fit the rules of the "modern fakes have to look real" game, you could buy an ordinary (standard-size) pane of window glass at a home store, use the glass cutter to cut it into little diamond panes, and sell that one modern window for an Elizabethan fortune, too.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Tuco » 14 Jul 2019, 10:47

My banker wants to know where you all are buying all these 600 dollar cows.

I reckon I'd go to the hardware store and load up on tools and hardware. A box of hinges ought to make you rich.

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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 14 Jul 2019, 16:24

Tuco wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 10:47
My banker wants to know where you all are buying all these 600 dollar cows.

I reckon I'd go to the hardware store and load up on tools and hardware. A box of hinges ought to make you rich.
Serious question: do you know what it would cost for an American today to buy a healthy young cow with several years of milking ahead of her? And how much milk could you expect to get from such a cow -- gallons per day, per week, what?

I recall once seeing one of those "donate to help Third World people" -- specifically, something about buying livestock for farmers -- and the prices they mentioned were really cheap. No cows IIRC, but I think it was something like "five bucks for a chicken, 15 or 20 for a goat." But of course, that was in someplace like sub-Saharan Africa where the COL is far below ours, and also when that charity bought livestock, presumably they could take advantage of certain economies of scale that were not available to a modern American looking to buy just a few egg-layers or smaller-than-a-cow milk-producers.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 14 Jul 2019, 19:18

Jennifer wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 16:24
Tuco wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 10:47
My banker wants to know where you all are buying all these 600 dollar cows.

I reckon I'd go to the hardware store and load up on tools and hardware. A box of hinges ought to make you rich.
Serious question: do you know what it would cost for an American today to buy a healthy young cow with several years of milking ahead of her? And how much milk could you expect to get from such a cow -- gallons per day, per week, what?

I recall once seeing one of those "donate to help Third World people" -- specifically, something about buying livestock for farmers -- and the prices they mentioned were really cheap. No cows IIRC, but I think it was something like "five bucks for a chicken, 15 or 20 for a goat." But of course, that was in someplace like sub-Saharan Africa where the COL is far below ours, and also when that charity bought livestock, presumably they could take advantage of certain economies of scale that were not available to a modern American looking to buy just a few egg-layers or smaller-than-a-cow milk-producers.
A close friend supports these guys. I don't vouch for the charity, but it's at least one source of information for the answer.

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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 14 Jul 2019, 23:30

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 19:18
Jennifer wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 16:24
Tuco wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 10:47
My banker wants to know where you all are buying all these 600 dollar cows.

I reckon I'd go to the hardware store and load up on tools and hardware. A box of hinges ought to make you rich.
Serious question: do you know what it would cost for an American today to buy a healthy young cow with several years of milking ahead of her? And how much milk could you expect to get from such a cow -- gallons per day, per week, what?

I recall once seeing one of those "donate to help Third World people" -- specifically, something about buying livestock for farmers -- and the prices they mentioned were really cheap. No cows IIRC, but I think it was something like "five bucks for a chicken, 15 or 20 for a goat." But of course, that was in someplace like sub-Saharan Africa where the COL is far below ours, and also when that charity bought livestock, presumably they could take advantage of certain economies of scale that were not available to a modern American looking to buy just a few egg-layers or smaller-than-a-cow milk-producers.
A close friend supports these guys. I don't vouch for the charity, but it's at least one source of information for the answer.
[Checks link] Huh, goats are more expensive than I remembered, but live poultry is indeed cheap by American standards, and a heifer calf is only $500 (though I don't know how long it takes for a heifer to become a milk-producing cow, over and above the time of a cow pregnancy).

But it does sound like, in modern America, a cow is pretty affordable -- measure it by "how long would it take for a minimum wage worker to buy one," that's still much less than 100 hours of labor -- and of course, for higher earners it's far less. I just found an interesting website discussing the Elizabethan cost of living, but for all the prices it lists for various foods -- including 3d for a pound of "best beef" (no mention of milk or cheese) -- it says nothing about how much livestock actually cost then.

Still, I suspect even the more prosperous artisans and tradespeople -- let alone the Elizabethan equivalent of minimum-wage workers -- had to work a hell of a lot longer than 100 hours, to earn enough to buy a milch cow.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 15 Jul 2019, 00:05

Jennifer wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 23:30

Still, I suspect even the more prosperous artisans and tradespeople -- let alone the Elizabethan equivalent of minimum-wage workers -- had to work a hell of a lot longer than 100 hours, to earn enough to buy a milch cow.
If we learned nothing else from Fiddler On The Roof, it's that it was better to be a butcher than a milkman.

Somewhat more seriously, I suspect whatever number of labor-hours the peasantry needed to work in Elizabethan England to be able to buy a cow was too high for most and that the emerging middle class would rather their equivalent Tevye made deliveries. If you go back much earlier in Medieval Europe, the stem-to-stern fucked-up-ness of feudalism makes it kind of irrelevant how much the serf has to work for a cow when his liege lord literally owns everything , anyway. (Or is effectively 'owned' by the next guy up the medieval food chain all the way up to the king, who owns everything.) When the land where you were born is not freely alienable, you're stuck with, at best, the same shit job as your parents or, if you're really, really lucky, becoming a foot soldier or going into the church, your liege takes whatever the fuck he wants from you whenever the fuck he wants it, etc, trying to calculate the labor equivalent to a new cow doesn't make much sense.

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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 15 Jul 2019, 01:01

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
15 Jul 2019, 00:05
Jennifer wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 23:30

Still, I suspect even the more prosperous artisans and tradespeople -- let alone the Elizabethan equivalent of minimum-wage workers -- had to work a hell of a lot longer than 100 hours, to earn enough to buy a milch cow.
If we learned nothing else from Fiddler On The Roof, it's that it was better to be a butcher than a milkman.

Somewhat more seriously, I suspect whatever number of labor-hours the peasantry needed to work in Elizabethan England to be able to buy a cow was too high for most and that the emerging middle class would rather their equivalent Tevye made deliveries. If you go back much earlier in Medieval Europe, the stem-to-stern fucked-up-ness of feudalism makes it kind of irrelevant how much the serf has to work for a cow when his liege lord literally owns everything , anyway. (Or is effectively 'owned' by the next guy up the medieval food chain all the way up to the king, who owns everything.) When the land where you were born is not freely alienable, you're stuck with, at best, the same shit job as your parents or, if you're really, really lucky, becoming a foot soldier or going into the church, your liege takes whatever the fuck he wants from you whenever the fuck he wants it, etc, trying to calculate the labor equivalent to a new cow doesn't make much sense.
True, but I'm still trying to get a handle on how "affordable" that two-cow drinking vessel JD mentioned was in the medieval or Renaissance era. Something that costs two cows in modern America -- $1,200 - almost anyone could afford to eventually acquire if they were really determined to do so, unlike a seven-figure item which most Americans today genuinely couldn't afford to buy even if they saved and sacrificed for years. I suspect the true medieval or Renaissance price of two cows (or that "ornate drinking vessel"), in modern terms, was considerably more than $1,200 and considerably less than seven figures... but exactly where, in between? I cannot find any information regarding that.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Mo » 15 Jul 2019, 06:27

It looks like in the US of A the price is well over a grand.

http://www.ranchworldads.com/cattle-for-sale/cows.php
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Tuco » 15 Jul 2019, 07:01

Jennifer wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 16:24
Tuco wrote:
14 Jul 2019, 10:47
My banker wants to know where you all are buying all these 600 dollar cows.

I reckon I'd go to the hardware store and load up on tools and hardware. A box of hinges ought to make you rich.
Serious question: do you know what it would cost for an American today to buy a healthy young cow with several years of milking ahead of her? And how much milk could you expect to get from such a cow -- gallons per day, per week, what?

I recall once seeing one of those "donate to help Third World people" -- specifically, something about buying livestock for farmers -- and the prices they mentioned were really cheap. No cows IIRC, but I think it was something like "five bucks for a chicken, 15 or 20 for a goat." But of course, that was in someplace like sub-Saharan Africa where the COL is far below ours, and also when that charity bought livestock, presumably they could take advantage of certain economies of scale that were not available to a modern American looking to buy just a few egg-layers or smaller-than-a-cow milk-producers.
Market's down, but a bred cow right now will cost you anywhere from 1000 to 1500 depending on where you are, her breed, age, etc. Dairy cows are on the higher end of that. Modern dairy cows give what the scientific community quantifies as a "shitload" of milk. A beef cow gives something like 2 gallons a day, depending on breed and pasture, so probably less than that way back yonder. You've got to let the calf have at least half of that.

A cow gestates for 9 months. Calves are usually weaned at 8-9 months old, even if you keep milking the cow, though, you have to let her go dry for at least a month or so before she has her next calf. A heifer can be bred as a yearling and calve as a 2 year old, and will live 14-15 years maybe. Might get ten calves out of her.

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lunchstealer
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by lunchstealer » 15 Jul 2019, 13:02

Everything I know about the price of cattle comes from this song:



Related: there was a case of cattle rustling about 15 miles southeast of here a few months back.
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Tuco
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Tuco » 16 Jul 2019, 06:36

A body could do worse than Professor Robert Earle Keene.

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Jennifer
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 19 Jul 2019, 09:40

Jennifer wrote:
10 Jul 2019, 19:17
I've never played the game to the full extent of mapping out a complete list of at least 20 different items plus freebies -- it's more like "I'm really enjoying this well-researched novel about life in an early Mesopotamian Bronze Age city ... hmm, if I went there to live I'd bring $50 worth of pre-1982 copper pennies -- that alone is enough scrap copper to set me up VERY nicely in an early Bronze Age city. Technically, any such pennies I find in the street don't count toward the $50 limit either. Also, $50 worth of rough lapis lazuli from one of those online gemstone / geology wholesalers... or should I buy $50 worth of tumbled-gemstone lapis lazuli beads instead?")
Thought: most of the people on this thread (me included) mostly talked about going back to the Renaissance or late medieval era, where we'd bring things like hand mirrors, magnetic compasses, etc. Mo mentioned dyes, at least some of which were available back to antiquity, and Painboy mentioned paints which, depending on the color, could be found from ancient Greece to the Renaissance.

But given the specific rules of the game -- at least 20 different "bought" items of no more than $50 apiece/ per type, plus whatever freebies you could legally and feasibly scrounge if you had a real motivation to do so (my experience of seeing a large dresser mirror with chipped edges is not unusual; go to any town or suburb on "big trash" pickup days and you're sure to see a few -- probably also some perfect mirrors atop ruined dressers). (By the way, I do not actually own a glass cutter or related safety equipment, but for purposes of the game I pretend I do.)

But the further back in time you go, the harder it would be to bring back items according to the rules -- modern items that could blend in then, all of which are super-cheap and readily available today. I mentioned the first Bronze Age cities, specifically copper pennies/scrap copper, and lapis lazuli (which IIRC they traded for, with the people living in what's now Afghanistan). They had copper, and they had ceramics -- but I don't think they discovered glazing yet, and unglazed baked ceramics are not easy to find nowadays, especially not for pocket-change money (because unglazed ceramics suck compared to glazed, so nobody makes them).

I have a large collection of shiny-red copper decor, some of which includes items of a sort which would have existed then --- cups, platters, bowls -- and all came from flea markets or thrifts so I could bring collect quite a few pieces with my $50 limit ... except most of my copper pieces would be anachronisms:the super-shiny red copper decor you see nowadays generally has a special clear coating on it so the copper doesn't tarnish. They had linen, and you can get a lot of good-quality linen for $50 in the thrift stores -- except it's in the form of modern pants, shirts and skirts, not the wide bolts of cloth they would've sold back then. (Amazon sells bolts of white linen fabric, 56" wide, for $15 per yard -- $50 won't get you much there, definitely not enough linen that that ALONE would've sold for what was a sizeable fortune then. You could maybe bring a couple of dyes, if the modern solids look like the authentic ancient ones, but I don't know what colors.

Even if I loosen the "types of things" categories -- like, you can have raw semiprecious gemstone/lapis ore, AND finished tumbled gemstone beads, AND cultured pearls, rather than lump them together into "jewels" -- I don't know if I could come up with 20 cheap-or-free modern items I could bring with me to the earliest Bronze Age. I don't know if I could even think of 10.
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JD
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by JD » 19 Jul 2019, 10:31

Jennifer wrote:
19 Jul 2019, 09:40
Even if I loosen the "types of things" categories -- like, you can have raw semiprecious gemstone/lapis ore, AND finished tumbled gemstone beads, AND cultured pearls, rather than lump them together into "jewels" -- I don't know if I could come up with 20 cheap-or-free modern items I could bring with me to the earliest Bronze Age. I don't know if I could even think of 10.
The early Bronze Age does make it harder, but other than bronze or copper, like you mentioned, which was still quite rare and expensive (check out Ötzi the Iceman's axe), I'm thinking certain dyes, maybe. Some of them were pretty rare and labor-intensive, I think.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Mo » 19 Jul 2019, 13:23

Also salt would still work.
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