Smithsonian

Machinery and the price of goods

A pound of cotton, costing at the time this calculation was made but 13 cents, has been developed into muslin which sold in the market for 80 cents, and into chintz which sold for $4. Seventy-five cents’ worth of common iron ore has been developed into $5 worth of bar-iron, or into $10 worth of horse-shoes, or into $180 worth of table knives, or into $6,800 worth of fine needles, or into $29,480 worth of shirt buttons, or $200,000 worth of watch-springs, or $400,000 worth of hair-springs, and the same quantity of common iron ore can be made into $2,500,000 worth of pallet arbors.

Source: Carrol D. Wright, Influences of Machinery on Labor, 1886.