The cost of a brick house was estimated at one dollar a brick. Common iron tacks of the smallest size, much in demand for fastening cloth partitions, were worth their weight in gold—a pound of gold bought a pound of tacks. Since gold was current at sixteen dollars an ounce (the rate of exchange established at a public meeting in September 1848), the tacks actually cost the purchaser $192 a pound. So far as the records show, this was the top price, although tacks seldom dropped below ten dollars an ounce for more than a year. By that time San Francisco had begun to pass the muslin-partition stage, and so many tacks had been imported that they couldn’t be given away. One merchandising genius is said to have brought in a whole shipload, most of which were eventually dumped into the bay at a considerable loss.
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