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The Cost of Things
October 2005 to February 2008

Objects made in pre-industrial America included many different types of costs. Prices covered the raw materials, the maker’s labor, the cost of transportation, and the retailer’s mark-up. The changing whims of fashion also caused prices to rise and fall. Beyond monetary expenses, there sometimes were dire human costs associated with the manufacture of early household objects. Harmful production methods cost workers their health and sometimes even their lives. Today many of the things they made have become valuable antiques and others have assumed sentimental or nostalgic value that can not be measured in dollars and cents. This gallery explores the different way we can think about the cost of things.