A hundred years ago, a phonograph was within the price range of many Americans. For example, the ones shown in this ad started at $18.75, and most shops allowed weekly or monthly payments. However, that’s not to say that those interested in conspicuous consumption couldn’t show their wealth by spending a great deal more.
The ad shown here appeared in the Chicago Tribune a hundred years ago today, May 31, 1917. The well healed could certainly display their wealth in the form of a phonograph, since the one at the bottom sold for $2000. In today’s money, that would be something along the lines of $40,000.