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13. March 2016

William Playfairʼs Price of Wheat

This is a recreation of a beautiful chart by William Playfair (credited as the inventor of the bar chart) that was published in 1822 in a letter to Parliament. While it is considered a milestone in the development of infographics it has issues which would make it considered a failure today.

It plots the wages of mechanics and the price of wheat of together and is intended to show that “never at any former period was wheat so cheap, in proportion to mechanical labour, as it is at the present time.” Playfair was correct. However, the dominant visual message in the chart is that the price of wheat varies but wages are stable.

Published: 13. March 2016. Tagged: .