Relative cost of absinthe in the Belle Epoch.

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived thru March 2001:Relative cost of absinthe in the Belle Epoch.
By Loucheliver on Monday, March 05, 2001 - 11:00 am: Edit

BC,
I see what you are saying. Still, absinthe cost about 1/2 what wine did. Making it relatively cheap in comparison. What matters more is what portion of disposable income the cost of that booze represents. As to what other costs-clothing, housing, food, were as a percentage of disposable income, to see what was left over for things like absinthe, I'm not even going to begin to look into it.
I can get pints of beer at my local bar for $1.25 everday. That is cheap as well. But w/auto costs, insurance, and phone costs, and internet access, DVDs, CDs, movies, state, local, US income taxes, rentals from Hollywood video, etc...I think there are a lot more venues to piss away a buck then there were 100 years ago.
I could be wrong, but considering what a pain it was to even find out the little I did, I'm not going to invest the time and effort to find out more. I'm curious, but lazy.

By Bob_Chong on Monday, March 05, 2001 - 09:28 am: Edit

That is "cheap"?

Using the figures you gave, one drink represents 1/137th of someone's weekly wage.

The US per capita income in 1999 was about $34K, or $654/week.

Dividing 654 by 137 equals about $4.77, which is much more than drinks might cost in the bars around where I live. Of course, YMMV, depending on where you live. In NYC, a five dollar drink may be cheap.

The now defunct Ms. Mae's Place in N.O. served drinks (mixed drinks and longnecks) for ninety cents when I lived there ten years ago...*that* is cheap.

BC

By Loucheliver on Monday, March 05, 2001 - 09:11 am: Edit

The answer, after looking through about, oh, 1 zillion sites, appears to be 2,850 FF/year, or about 55/week. So, finally, at 40 centimes or so per drink, absinthe was pretty darned cheap.
Now that my brain has turned to mush from looking through incredibly boring sites and university papers about finance, I wonder why I ever bothered to care.

By Loucheliver on Monday, March 05, 2001 - 04:23 am: Edit

Thanks Fellas.

By Brspiritus on Monday, March 05, 2001 - 04:04 am: Edit

Since exchange rates didn't float but were set from year to year I can actually get you an exchange rate for 1910, close enough I should guess. 1 German mark = 1 French Frank 25 Centimes = 1 UK Shilling = 25 Cents US. This was of course with the money of the time, which was almost universally minted in Silver and the paper notes backed in Gold... ah the days when our money was worth something.

By Petermarc on Monday, March 05, 2001 - 12:10 am: Edit

i believe the term you need is 'salaire moyen'...

By Loucheliver on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 06:13 pm: Edit

Petermarc,
What is the French term for "per capita income"?
I need to search in French because all the info I've found is in English and $$. Not that I've found the 1900 income yet, the closest was Germany in 1914. But who the hell wants to find what the exchange rate 100 years ago? I'll have to rely on my 8th grade French and hopefully suss it out.
LordH,
Yep, a cider head. Make my own hard cider here at Loucheliver Manor because all the American stuff is shite.

By Petermarc on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 05:26 am: Edit

the old french cider carafe looks almost like the l'eau frappé (cold water) carafe of absinthe fame...except it is taller and fatter...(just trying to segway back to the topic...;-))

By Lordhobgoblin on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 04:45 am: Edit

Louche,

"fine soft weater" and people wonder why Ireland is so green?

A cider drinker eh? You're no doubt well used to stinking hangovers. I like cider, in my opinion
the best cider is to be found in Brittany in France. If you're there try it. They drink it out of cider cups, nothing like sitting outside a cafe in Pont Aven or Jocellin in early summer
drinking a few cups of Brittany cider.

Hobgoblin

By Lordhobgoblin on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 04:40 am: Edit

Louche,

A cider drinker eh? You're no doubt well used to stinking hangovers. I like cider, in my opinion the best cider is to be found in Brittany in France. If you're there try it. They drink it out of cider cups, nothing like sitting outside a cafe in Pont Aven or Jocellin in early summer drinking a few cups of Brittany cider.

Hobgoblin

By Loucheliver on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 04:09 am: Edit

Lord H,
We've driven the Ring twice, both times in "fine soft weater" (it rained like hell). Stayed in Dingle 3 times, it is all you say it is! The Captain's House guesthouse is exceptional. In Clare we stay in Kilkee, out of the way, small, friendly, w/a beautiful harbor and cliffs. Played snooker in Killarney for a few hours once, that seemed to be the best thing going.
My wife's maiden name is Donovan. We tracked down her clan's castle in Drimoleauge, not too far from Bantry. Once we climbed the fence into the cow pasture it is in, and got inside, she was very moved to be in the ancestral seat of her family.
Many is the pub we were going to leave at a reasonable hour and ended up staying 'til all hours because someone asked the question: "So, you're from the States are ya?" Next thing you know, it's closing time.
When I'm over I drink Bulmer's Cider almost to the exclusion of everything else, because until recently it was impossible to get here, and still might as well be. It is only available in NYC and Boston under the name Magner's. A barman at the bus terminal in Times Square is from Co. Tipperary so I chatted him up and he turned me on to the fact it is in America now.
Sponsored by the Loucheliver Everyone Should Go To Ireland (North or the Republic, or both) Tourist Board.

By Lordhobgoblin on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 03:48 am: Edit

Louche,

Belfast's a great city to get drunk in. For scenery, the North Antrim coast is hard to beat, check out the Giant's causeway. Although nothing in Ireland beats Donegall scenery wise, except maybe the West of Kerry.

If you are near Kerry then don't bother with Killarney (although it's alright I suppose) but drive around the 'Ring of Kerry', then stay acouple of days in Dingle, decent modest (and cheap) accomodation, and great traditional music (of the genuine amateur session type) in the pubs. The musicians just turn up, arrange themselves in a suitable spot and play for pleasure (and beer), anyone who's up to it and carries a suitable instrument can join in the session, but you have to be good not to make a fool of yourself.

Then after Kerry head up through County Tipperary up to County Clare, stop off at a B&B near Bunratty Castle, (long ago my family was one of the principal clans in this area paying homage to the Earl of Thomond whose seat was at Bunratty) and go to a banquet at the Castle, (and as you're in Ireland a sore head the following day will be guaranteed)

Hobgoblin
(Not sponsored by the County Kerry or County Clare Tourist Boards)

By Loucheliver on Thursday, March 01, 2001 - 03:40 pm: Edit

L.H.,
I haven't been to the North, but we've covered the coast of the Republic from northern Co. Donegal to north of Dublin. We've also spent time on a barge in the Grand Canal and on a cruiser on the broad majestic Shannon. Spent a week in London a few years back also.
A pal of ours just got back from Northern Ireland a few days ago. Haven't had time to chat w/him though.

By Lordhobgoblin on Thursday, March 01, 2001 - 10:44 am: Edit

Louche,

I'm from County Down in the North of Ireland, but now living in London.

Hobgoblin

By Loucheliver on Thursday, March 01, 2001 - 04:24 am: Edit

Thanks guys! The fog begins to clear. I'll hit the internet hard and try to find the average per capita income at that time to give some relavancy to those prices. I had always heard "facts" about absinthe pricing tossed about, but w/out any substantiating numbers.

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, March 01, 2001 - 03:43 am: Edit

I have a number of old saucers with numbers such as '50', '40' and '20' on, and no currency symbol. I had assumed that these were centimes.

By Timk on Thursday, March 01, 2001 - 03:38 am: Edit

But has anyone ever found a saucer with a price as low as 20, even 50 centimes?

Tim

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, March 01, 2001 - 01:58 am: Edit

Here are some comparitive prices from the Vichet catalogue of 1900.

Absinthe Vichet Tres Vielle 72% Ffr 1.7 per litre
Absinthe Vichet Extra Fine 66% Ffr 1.45 per litre

Kirsch 50% Ffr 5.75 per litre
Cognac Grand Fine Champagne 49% Ffr 3.35 per litre
'Divers wines' (Banyuls, Sherry and Port) Ffr 3.25 per litre

So absinthe was comparitively cheap in those days - half the price of wine. I think that French bars still sell a glass of table wine for around the price that a litre of the same stuff would cost in a supermarket so maybe the lower prices on the saucers aren't so way off the mark.

By Loucheliver on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 04:45 pm: Edit

Thanks Petermarc. It looks like absinthe cost about the same as champagne, 3 francs vs. 3.50.
How about any wine pricing from the same era?

By Petermarc on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 03:56 pm: Edit

in a poem titled 'l'absinthe' from 1895, it says that an absinthe cost 10 sous (centimes)...far less than 3 francs(a bottle most likely could be had for that)...i have seen a bistro price sheet from about 1900 that priced it at 20 centimes,along with all other drinks, while a bottle of champagne cost 3 francs 50... it also varied depending on the quality of the absinthe, alcohol content, etc.

By Loucheliver on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 03:00 pm: Edit

Attention all you historian types!
I've seen the figure of 3 FF tossed out a few times for the average cost of absinthe back in the day. Also, it is repeatedly said that it became way cheaper than wine, but I don't recall seeing the price of the wine anywhere.
Plus, anyone have any idea what the average annual income in France was 100 years ago? I don't have a clue myself. If anyone knows any hard numbers, it would help me fix how cheap absinthe really was.
Thanks.

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