John Smith’s Bill: Then & Now


John’s Sports Center carried bulk gunpowder at $12 a pound, so Smith’s supply would have come to $240. [$240]

60 pound of shot or lead, pistol and goose shot. 5s.

John’s Sports Center also had shot in stock, available at $14.99 in 25-pound quantities, though the clerks did ask if I was planning a revolution and suggested that perhaps I needed a little more shot for the amount of powder I was buying. They offered to prorate the cost at a perpound price, so the 60 pounds would come to $36. [$36]

Total cost of arms £3 9s. 6d. [$1,166]

Grand total £10 18s. 6d. [$2,911]

Tools for a family of six persons, and so after the rate for more.

My local True Value hardware store seemed the place to begin on this long list of items, and except where a different source has been indicated, these implements came from that supplier.

5 broad hoes at 2s. apiece. 10s.

A Green Thumb broad hoe retailed for $19.99. [$100]

5 narrow hoes at 16d. apiece. 6s. 8d.

Green Thumb narrow hoes cost $20.99 each. [$105]

2 broad axes at 3s. 8d. apiece. 7s. 4d.

A Master Mechanic Professional broadax ran $24.99. [$50]

5 felling axes at 18d. apiece. 7s. 6d.

A Master Mechanic Professional felling ax sold for $14.95. [$75]

2 steel handsaws at 16d. apiece. 2s. 8d.

Master Mechanic Professional Coarse crosscut saws were $19.99 each. [$40]

2 two-handsaws at 5s. apiece. 10s.

How big a saw did Smith have in mind? If he meant what is now called a bow saw, which is about a yard of crosscut saw and a handle roughly that of a pulled bow, the Master Mechanic bow saw can be obtained at True Value for $15. But if Smith intended one of those large five- or six-foot saws used by loggers, I was out of luck because they aren’t sold around here anymore. One hardware store told me over the phone that it had one and would let me know the price if I came over and helped the clerk get it down from its resting place among the rafters. Soon I was holding in my hands a six-foot two-handed crosscut saw covered with rust and greasy dust. But then it developed the saw had been in the store since it opened forty-five years earlier, and it was not for sale! I reasoned that faced with this situation, the captain would have purchased two of those bow saws and pocketed the rest of the money. [$30]

1 whipsaw, set and filed, with box, file and wrest. 10s.

A whipsaw served much the same purpose as a mitre box and attached saw. A Precision Mitre Box made by Master Mechanic cost $32.79. [$33]

2 hammers 12d. apiece. 2s.

A Master Mechanic Professional hammer ran $25.99. [$52]

3 shovels at 18d. apiece. 4s. 6d.

A Green Thumb shovel was priced at $24.95. [$75]

2 spades at 18d. apiece. 3s.

Green Thumb spades were $24.95 each. [$50]

2 augers at 6d. apiece. 1s.

Originally a drill for soil or wood, the auger is most commonly used now for digging pestholes. The Green Thumb auger I looked at sold for $19.99. [$40]


6 chisels at 6d. apiece. 3s.

The six different Master Mechanic wood chisels I looked at, in sizes of ¼, ½, ¾, 1, 1¼, and l½ inches, ran $5.99, $6.09, $6.29, $6.49, $7.99, and $8.49 respectively. The total came to $41.34. [$41]