A graphical toolkit for visualization
Protovis

# Playfair’s Wheat

Often credited as the founder of statistical graphics, William Playfair published this elegant chart in 1822 in a letter to Parliament. It shows 250 years of the price of wheat, typical weekly wages, and the reigning monarch. He intended to demonstrate that “never at any former period was wheat so cheap, in proportion to mechanical labour, as it is at the present time.”

For comparison, see the relative price of wheat in terms of weekly wages.

Next: Gas & Driving

### Source

<html>
<title>Wheat &amp; Wages</title>
<script type="text/javascript" src="../protovis-r3.2.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="wheat.js"></script>
<style type="text/css">
body {
}
#fig {
width: 860px;
height: 465px;
}
#title {
position: absolute;
top: 70px;
left: 200px;
background: white;
}
large {
font-size: medium;
}
</style>
<body><div id="center"><div id="fig">
<center id="title">
<large><b>CHART</b>,<br>
Shewing at One View<br>
The Price of The Quarter of Wheat,</large><br> &amp;
Wages of Labour by the Week,<br>
from The Year 1565 to 1821,<br>
by WILLIAM PLAYFAIR
</center>
<script type="text/javascript+protovis">
var w = 860 - 60,
h = 465 - 20,
x = pv.Scale.linear(1565, 1821).range(0, w),
y = pv.Scale.linear(0, 100).range(0, h);

var vis = new pv.Panel()
.width(w)
.height(h)
.right(60)
.bottom(20);

/* Price of The Quarter of Wheat. */
.data(wheat)
.interpolate("step-after")
.bottom(0)
.height(function(d) y(d.wheat))
.left(function(d) x(d.year))
.fillStyle("#aaa")
.strokeStyle("#999")

/* Weekly Wages of a Good Mechanic. */
.data(wheat.filter(function(d) d.wages))
.left(function(d) x(d.year))
.bottom(0)
.height(function(d) y(d.wages))
.fillStyle("hsla(195, 50%, 80%, .75)")
.fillStyle(null)
.lineWidth(4)
.strokeStyle("lightcoral")
.top(function() this.proto.top() + 1.5)
.lineWidth(1.5)
.strokeStyle("black");

.left(130).bottom(31)
.font("italic 10px serif")
.text("Weekly Wages of a Good Mechanic");

/* Y-axis. */
.bottom(-.5)
.data(pv.range(0, 100, 10))
.bottom(y)
.strokeStyle("rgba(255, 255, 255, .2)")
.visible(function() !(this.index % 2))
.text(function(s) s + (s ? "" : " shillings"));

/* X-axis. */
.data(pv.range(1560, 1830, 10))
.bottom(0)
.left(x)
.height(-4)
.data(pv.range(1600, 1850, 50))
.height(null)
.top(0)
.strokeStyle("rgba(0, 0, 0, .2)")
.textMargin(8);

/* Monarchs. */
.data(monarch)
.height(5)
.top(function(d) (!d.commonwealth && (this.index % 2)) ? 15 : 10)
.fillStyle(function(d) d.commonwealth ? null : "#000")
.strokeStyle("#000")
.left(function(d) x(d.start))
.width(function(d) x(d.end) - x(d.start))
.textBaseline("top")
.textMargin(6)
.font("italic 10px serif")
.text(function(d) d.name);

vis.render();
</script>
</div></div></body>
</html>

### Data

var wheat = [
{ year: 1565, wheat: 41, wages: 5 },
{ year: 1570, wheat: 45, wages: 5.05 },
{ year: 1575, wheat: 42, wages: 5.08 },
{ year: 1580, wheat: 49, wages: 5.12 },
{ year: 1585, wheat: 41.5, wages: 5.15 },
{ year: 1590, wheat: 47, wages: 5.25 },
{ year: 1595, wheat: 64, wages: 5.54 },
{ year: 1600, wheat: 27, wages: 5.61 },
{ year: 1605, wheat: 33, wages: 5.69 },
{ year: 1610, wheat: 32, wages: 5.78 },
{ year: 1615, wheat: 33, wages: 5.94 },
{ year: 1620, wheat: 35, wages: 6.01 },
{ year: 1625, wheat: 33, wages: 6.12 },
{ year: 1630, wheat: 45, wages: 6.22 },
{ year: 1635, wheat: 33, wages: 6.3 },
{ year: 1640, wheat: 39, wages: 6.37 },
{ year: 1645, wheat: 53, wages: 6.45 },
{ year: 1650, wheat: 42, wages: 6.5 },
{ year: 1655, wheat: 40.5, wages: 6.6 },
{ year: 1660, wheat: 46.5, wages: 6.75 },
{ year: 1665, wheat: 32, wages: 6.8 },
{ year: 1670, wheat: 37, wages: 6.9 },
{ year: 1675, wheat: 43, wages: 7 },
{ year: 1680, wheat: 35, wages: 7.3 },
{ year: 1685, wheat: 27, wages: 7.6 },
{ year: 1690, wheat: 40, wages: 8 },
{ year: 1695, wheat: 50, wages: 8.5 },
{ year: 1700, wheat: 30, wages: 9 },
{ year: 1705, wheat: 32, wages: 10 },
{ year: 1710, wheat: 44, wages: 11 },
{ year: 1715, wheat: 33, wages: 11.75 },
{ year: 1720, wheat: 29, wages: 12.5 },
{ year: 1725, wheat: 39, wages: 13 },
{ year: 1730, wheat: 26, wages: 13.3 },
{ year: 1735, wheat: 32, wages: 13.6 },
{ year: 1740, wheat: 27, wages: 14 },
{ year: 1745, wheat: 27.5, wages: 14.5 },
{ year: 1750, wheat: 31, wages: 15 },
{ year: 1755, wheat: 35.5, wages: 15.7 },
{ year: 1760, wheat: 31, wages: 16.5 },
{ year: 1765, wheat: 43, wages: 17.6 },
{ year: 1770, wheat: 47, wages: 18.5 },
{ year: 1775, wheat: 44, wages: 19.5 },
{ year: 1780, wheat: 46, wages: 21 },
{ year: 1785, wheat: 42, wages: 23 },
{ year: 1790, wheat: 47.5, wages: 25.5 },
{ year: 1795, wheat: 76, wages: 27.5 },
{ year: 1800, wheat: 79, wages: 28.5 },
{ year: 1805, wheat: 81, wages: 29.5 },
{ year: 1810, wheat: 99, wages: 30 },
{ year: 1815, wheat: 78 }, // TODO
{ year: 1820, wheat: 54 },
{ year: 1821, wheat: 54 }
];

var monarch = [
{ name: "Elizabeth", start: 1565, end: 1603 },
{ name: "James I", start: 1603, end: 1625 },
{ name: "Charles I", start: 1625, end: 1649 },
{ name: "Cromwell", start: 1649, end: 1660, commonwealth: true },
{ name: "Charles II", start: 1660, end: 1685 },
{ name: "James II", start: 1685, end: 1689 },
{ name: "W&M", start: 1689, end: 1702 },
{ name: "Anne", start: 1702, end: 1714 },
{ name: "George I", start: 1714, end: 1727 },
{ name: "George II", start: 1727, end: 1760 },
{ name: "George III", start: 1760, end: 1820 },
{ name: "George IV", start: 1820, end: 1821 }
];