Tool$ Tuesday: Currency Conversion and Haydn’s Messiah


Name: Roland Weiser

Question: I would appreciate the name of the site where you can obtain today’s value for currency in the past. I’m writing a family memoir: my father worked in Cairo, Egypt as a pharmacist in 1906 and was paid LE 18 [Egyptian Pounds] per month. How much would that be in today’s dollar value? I could not find the site, and know you used it for your Haydn story. Many thanks.

Paul Solman: The site I like and use is It’s an enormously handy tool for converting dollar figures from the past to the present — and pounds too. Especially interesting is the feature that allows you to compute worth seven different ways: from the CPI to share of GDP. It gives a good sense of how subjective the conversion to ‘today’s’ value can be.

Our story featured Handel, by the way, not Haydn, though I understand your typo: the orchestra that performed the Messiah is “The Handel and Haydn Society.” Maybe we’ll do a story on Franz Josef Haydn next holiday season, or even on his brother Michael, if someone can suggest an economics angle. Seriously. Who’d have thought we’d get a Making Sen$e story out of the Messiah? Not me.

(Watch a larger version of ‘How Handel Orchestrated a Classic Financial Portfolio’ here.)