Ruble value value in 1900? #lithuania


Hello,  I have found a marriage record for 1898 in Lida, Vilnius that indicates that the couple (both widowed) gave 100 rubles each to the rabbis.  They were listed as petite bourgeois.  I think the man was a bookbinder.  So, was this a lot of money? I can find the exchange rate, but I hope someone knows enough about income for town Jews to know whether this was a lot of money. I appreciate it!
Lynn Dumenil

Krzysztof Witaszek

Here are some examples of the prices in the Congress Poland around 1895 I've 
laborer daily in Warsaw approx. 55 kop
carpenter " " 160 kop
bricklayer " Lublin 128 - 153 kop.
root (128 litres) of wheat flour Lublin 2 - 5 rubles
" peas " 9 - 10 rubles
" potatoes " 1 - 2 rubles
4 heads of cabbage " about 1 kop
a pot of vodka " about 6 rubles
ell (57 cm) of linen cloth " about 30 - 50 kop
bread pound Kingdom of Poland 4 kop.
" of wholemeal " " 3 - 4 kop
lamb meat " " about 12 kop.
" of veal " " 11 - 15 kop
" pork " " 10 - 16 kop
Pound lard " 14 - 17 kop
Butter " " 35 - 45 kop
a pot of milk " about 30 kop
100 eggs  Radom 140 - 240 kop
Sugar pound " approx. 55 kop
salt pound Warsaw approx. 6 kop
wheat root Lublin 8 - 9 rubles
rye root " Warsaw 6 - 8 rubles

Krzysztof Witaszek

Judith Singer

A couple of different sources, based on historical exchange rates for currency and for gold, indicate that a US dollar was worth approximately 2 rubles circa 1898. So, 100 rubles was the equivalent of about US $50 at the time. 

$50 in 1898 is equivalent to about $1700 today, based on the rate of U.S. inflation as calculated by the inflation calculator at

Inflation Calculator

Looking at it from another point of view, I have read that a few kopeks (each worth 1/100th of a ruble) was enough to get a decnt meal before the Russian Revolution.  

To show that bookbinding was considered a highly skilled occupation, the average annual pay of bookbinders in the U.S. at the time was $890, nearly three times the average for common laborers ($300), according to "Workers of the nation; an encyclopedia of the occupations of the American people and a record of business, professional and industrial achievement at the beginning of the twentieth century" by Gilson Willets. It is a lengthy document; this particular datum can be seen online at 

Judith Singer

Alan Shuchat

Apart from the value of the ruble at the time, the marriage record reflects the text of the traditional ketubah (marriage contract). For example, shows that 200 zuzim (silver coins) was the traditional amount for virgins, and 100 otherwise. This seems to have carried over to rubles in Lynn's example. I've seen an 1874 marriage record (not ketubot) where 48 rubles was written, but also ones in that year where no amount was specified. For a current rabbinical ruling on these values, see

Alan Shuchat
Newton, MA

SHUKHAT (Talnoe, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Odessa, Balta (Abazovka), Pogrebishche)
VINOKUR (Talnoe), KURIS (Mogilev-Podolskiy, Ataki, Berdichev)
ZILBERMAN (Soroki, Kremenets), BIRNBAUM (Kamenets-Podolskiy)
KITAIGORODSKI (Zvenigorodka)