How Much Would A Luther Bible Cost when It Was First Published?

lbOur Saxon friends write

Did you know that when Luther’s Bible was published in 1534, the Bible cost a equivalent of 17 fat geese?

So I asked- how much is that?  They replied

The September Testament one and a half Gulden. Two Gulden acht Groschen the complete Bible. (60 Gulden was a equivalent to a small farm).  One and a half Gulden was an annual salary of a maidservant. A teacher’s 3 3/4.

Concerning Luther’s own salary they remark

As preacher at the City Church Luther had been receiving an annual salary of 9 Gulden since approx. 1514. In 1523 this sum was still the only cash at his disposal, since his Augustian professorship gave him free lodgings, together with brewing rights, a claim to payment in kind, but not to a salary. It was only in 1524 that Elector Frederick granted him an annual salary of one hundred Gulden. The new elector John ultimately accorded him two hundred Gulden so that Luther would earn as much as Philipp Melanchthon. This sum was a top salary for a Wittenberg Professor at the time, but the big house, the runaway monks and nuns the Luthers took in, and the continual guests made the household expensive to run. Luther calculated his annual expenses at about five hundred Gulden (Btw Luther never earned anything from his writing, he refused to accept a penny from them).

Neat, right?!?!  And we think books are expensive today!  It cost over a year’s salary for the goodly maid to buy a single Bible.  Astonishing.

I bought a two volume facsimile of the 1534 Bible and I think it cost around $199.  So, quite a bargain!