$300 For A Shoeing Job?

Editor’s note: Using an inflation calculator, the 1899 rate for the four new shoes and two pads would grow from $5 to nearly $150 in today’s buying power.

To some this is just an old invoice. But as a farrier, I see the history of our trade. It also tells me of the value of a farrier. The invoice on this page is from services performed by farrier Daniel Ward for the New York City Fire Department. These horses would pull the fire engine. A client of mine gave it to me after she had bought it for 50 cents at a yard sale in New York state.

Take note of what is on this invoice, which covers this account for the entire month of September 1899. Four new shoes and two pads for $5, $3 for four new shoes. No resets here. So $3 for new shoes, $2 for the pads. 

In that time period, people better understood that their horses had to work, and they needed the horseshoer to keep it working. And horses like these were hard workers. Often, if a working horse of this period reached aged 10, it was already old and used up.

By the way, isn’t it interesting how invoicing of pen to paper hasn’t changed over time? Maybe it is a little fancier on the head. But if you are still using paper invoicing, is your system all that different? And that it is direct to work on “All Lame and Interfering Horses” — it makes him sound like he’s a specialist. And since veterinarians didn’t need licenses back then, maybe he was as a horseshoer-veterinarian. I have so many…

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Richard becker

Richard Becker

Richard Becker is a farrier based in Lapeer, Mich., and is a 2018 inductee to the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame.

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