Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A plumbing repair that cost just $2.20 ... in 1906

Wow! Have I really not posted an old receipt here since February?

Well, here's one. It shows that on February 6, 1906, a Mr. Henderson of 1508 Walnut Street1 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, needed his water pipe repaired.

In came I.R. Lyme & Co., plumbers and gas fitters. The fix required seven feet of half-inch galvanized pipe, a union, and three hours of the plumber's time.

The bill came in two days later: $2.20

In case you can't read the fancy cursive writing, here's the breakdown:
  • Pipe: 70¢
  • Union: 30¢
  • Three hours labor: $1.20
  • Total: $2.20

That was no small sum, though. According to The Inflation Calculator, $2.20 in 1906 would be the equivalent of $52.69 in 2010 dollars. The labor itself was still cheap, though. The 40 cents per hour would be the equivalent of $9.58 per hour today. I'm guessing plumbers charge more than that, though I generally prefer not to find out.

I.R. Lyme was, for a time, the treasurer of the Master Plumbers' Association of Harrisburg. And I found this interesting news item in Volume 38 of The Plumbers Trade Journal, published in 1905:
"The annual picnic of the master plumbers' association of Harrisburg, Pa., was held at the Creek Club House recently. ... The club house is a beautiful spot situated on the banks of the Yellow Breeches Creek. Many games were indulged by the plumbers, among which the baseball game was of especial interest. Two teams, captained by C.W. Fisher and I.R. Lyme, played an interesting game, which was won by Fisher's team by the score of 15 to 3. C. Nauss pitched for the victorious side, while J.W. Reeser did the twirling for the losers. J.W. Neill umpired the game, and there were whispers of partiality. ... The 'Creek rollers,' a specialty act by Lyme, Bayles, Bumbaugh, Crabbe was the crowning success of the day and was enjoyed by all."
1. This address is now the home of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg.

1 comment:

  1. These old billheads are really neat. Recently I sold some on ebay from the York area. They are actually quite collectable. You translated the billhead for any reader who could not read the fancy cursive handwriting. One of the things that I really like about these old billheads is the beautiful cursive writing. What is really sad is that in about 20 more years, most people will not be able to read any cursive writing since it is no longer being taught in most schools!