I came across an interesting article at Economist.com, comparing "real" (i.e., inflation-adjusted) percentage changes in the price of various items in year 1900 vs. year 2000. It included Steinway grand pianos, showing a 160% "real" increase. http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=457272
(So, if we can apply the same percentage to uprights as grands, and if a Steinway upright cost, say, $25,000 in 2000, the comparable cost in 1900, but expressed in year 2000 dollars, would be about $9,600, if I'm doing the math right. Using a CPI inflation calculator to translate that back to year 1900 dollars, that seems to equate to about $480. Other brand pianos were no doubt less expensive.) http://www.westegg.com/inflation/
Regarding pianos, the article emphasizes Colin's point above: "Many goods that are popular today—television sets, say—did not exist 100 years ago. Nor the way of achieving some non-material goods. In 1900, the Edison phonograph already existed. But anyone wanting the real sound of music at home ... had to buy an instrument (and then pay for his daughters to be taught how to play it). Over the past century, the price of a Steinway grand piano has increased by 160% in real terms. But the true cost of his pleasure to our music-lover has tumbled: he buys a compact-disc player instead of a piano, paying less than 1% of the price of a modern Steinway."
An article from the Chicago Public Library gave these statistics about wages and hours worked per week in Chicago for various occupations in 1900: http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/1900/fam.html
* Bricklayers $.50--46.3 hr.
* Hod Carriers $.25--48.0 hr.
* Construction Laborers $.17--60.0 hr.
* Plasterers $.50--44.0 hr.
* Boiler Makers $.27--54.1 hr.
* Foundry Laborers $.16--56.0 hr.
* Machine Woodworkers $.25--54.5 hr.
* Newspaper Compositors $.36--54.0 hr.
"This would give a range of annual income from about $570 for laborers to $1200 for bricklayers."
Chicago public sector wages in 1900 included:
* Janitors (male) $720, (female) $540
* Coal passers $720-780
* Firefighters $840-1,134
* Patrolmen $1,000, Police Matrons $720
* Laborers $600
* Stenographer (female) $900, male clerks generally earned $900-1200
* Mayor $10,000
* Department Heads generally earned $3,000-6,000.
* A quite numerous class of assistants, chief clerks, lawyers, police and fire supervisors, etc., earned a comfortable middle class income of $1200-3000 per year.