JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
In case you've wondered how much four barrels of gin cost in the U.S. in 1836 I have provided the following list of What Stuff Cost, found tucked away in a book-keeping section of a very well used pocket-sized copy of Roswell C. Smith's Practical and Mental Arithmetic on a New Plan..., which was published in Hartford in 1836. The answer to the gin question is $75, and if a barrel meant 42 gallons back then as it does now then the gin would cost about 60 cents a gallon. That of course sounds like a tiny price, but compared to what? That 60 cents would be about two-thirds of a day's wages for the average non-farm white male worker (actually between 50 cents and $1.00), while girl/women textile workers in Lowell Mass worked for about $3-4 per six day week. So if you considered working for most of the day in exchange for a bottle of (average, nothing special) gin, then it would seem a little on the expensive side. Or consider the prices of stuff as expensive or not based on a yearly salary of $300 or so and getting by on about a dollar a day. Naturally many standard cost of living bits are not present in 1836, but still there's not a lot of wiggle room on a salary like that.
What is also a very attractive insight was that these items were considered to be at least more-or-less obvious object to have in a store or in trade, which might say a lot about what sorts of things were available for purchase in general at that time.
In any event, the list (which is tiny in real life, about 3.5x3" total) which for some reason did not make use of the decimal point: