### Bob Crachit's Earning Power

November 30, 2012
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First of all, I wish to dedicate this blog to rd80 affectionately known to his friends here as TarpedBanks. When I think of foreign currency, you come to mind.

Merry Christmas to all! I'm posting this early so that you can do the math and impress your friends with your real world knowledge of how poor Bob Crachit really was.

**Bob Crachit’s Earning Power**

*1 guinea equals 1 pound (£) plus 1 shilling (s) or 21 shillings*

* ***1 pound (£) equals 20 shillings (s) **

*1 crown equals 5 shillings (s)*

* ***1 bob or shilling (s) equals 12 pence (d) ***

**In 1971 the money changed so that 1 shilling equaled 5 new pence (p). The new pence (p) is worth more than the old pence (d) for convenience. However, we will use 1 shilling equals 12 pence (d) for the following answers.*

1. Bob Crachit worked six days a week for 15 shillings. How much was his daily wage? (Change shillings to pence to simplify answer.)

2. Back then commercial fresh turtle soup served at the Lord Mayor of London’s banquets costs 1 guinea a quart—the most expensive soup one could buy. About how many days would Bob Crachit need to work to buy this quart of soup?

3. (a) A pint of scalloped oysters only cost 3 shillings, 6 pence. How many days would it take Bob Crachit to earn it? Figure to the nearest 10th.

(b) Currently a pint of shucked oysters is about $20. Figuring federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour how many hours to pay for the oysters?

4. Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management lists yearly wages for household servants around the time Bob Crachit would have lived if he were not a fictitious character. A butler could make from 25 to 50 pounds a year, but the lowest paid servant the scullery maid made only 5 to 9 pounds per year.

(a) Who earned more per year a butler or Bob Crachit?

(b) At 5 pounds per year, what was a scullery maid’s weekly salary?

5. In *A Christmas Carol*, how much money does Scrooge offer the boy if he runs his errand quickly to order the turkey for the Crachit family?

6. Half a crown was a day’s wage for whom? The scullery maid, Bob Crachit, or Tom Pinch?

**Answers **

1. Bob Crachit's daily wage was 30 pence or 2.5 shillings or half a crown a day.

2. To afford the soup would have taken 19 days of work.

3. (a)To afford the oysters would have taken 1.4 days. (b) 2 3/4 hrs. at minimum wage.

4. a. Bob Crachit made 39 pounds a year, but the butler also got room and board so he was much better off.

b. At 5 pounds a year a scullery maid earned 2 shillings a week.

5. The reformed Scrooge offers the boy half a crown if he runs the errand quickly.

6. I gave this answer away. It is the same as #1. Bob Crachit.

At least A Christmas Carol ends happily. I'm so glad Bob got a raise. He certainly needed it. One place I checked calculated 15 shillings had the buying power of $100 dollars in today's money.