April 9th, 2016
As far as I can tell, the popular image of a “millionaire” in the US comes from the 19th century.
Whether you figure by the gold price or by the CPI deflator, one million dollars would buy between 1 and 2 tons of gold during most of that century.
Here in 2016, a ton of gold is worth about $35,000,000.
That’s inflation for you (which I suppose is why many people today use “millionaire” to mean someone who earns $1M/year, instead of someone with a net worth of $1M).
But gold doesn’t inflate. A ton of gold is a millionaire. A nice visualizable amount.