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I love drinking Peach Snapple, not least of all because of the neat factoids imprinted on the inside of the caps. When the ballpoint pen was first mass-introduced at Gimbels in 1945 (more on Gimbels in an upcoming post), it sold for a whopping $12.50. That was in 1945 dollars, or the equivalent of $150.43 in May 2008 dollars!

Even at $12.50 per pen, it must have seemed like a wonder to folks that had to rely on more arcane writing implements, and probably well worth it. But to put this factoid in perspective, just think of what you can purchase for $150 dollars today:

And I could go on for hours with examples. And for these things, it would take a typical blue-collar production worker who earns an average hourly wage, about 9 hours of work to purchase!

In 1945 when the ballpoint pen was first sold, none of those other three items I mentioned above even existed at all. And for $12.50 back then, you could have had the option of purchasing, instead of a ballpoint pen:

And to secure these delightful items? It only took the typical blue-collar production worker about 12 hours of work to purchase (see table 228).

By the way, a ballpoint pen today can be had for as little as $1.19 per dozen (about 10 cents each). It is simply wonderous that something that took a typical production worker over 12 hours or labor to purchase a mere 60 years ago now takes a typical worker less than 30 seconds to acquire (they make roughly 27 cents per minute of labor in wages today). I would venture to bet that even today’s most modest ball-point pens are of much higher quality than those on sale at Gimbels 63 years ago.

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