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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter VI: Land values,   pp. 192-202 PDF (2.3 MB)

Page 193

ficulties involved in judging cloth. The same can be said of mer-
chandise in general; it also holds good in the case of bank stock
Vr live stock-they are daily and hourly put upon the market in
large or small quantities as circumstances may determine and
what they bring may be taken as their real values. And will not
the same hold true of real estate? It will, unquestionably, ex-
cept-and the exception is the all-important thing to be under-
stood-that land is not normally a kind of property to be bought
and sold in the ordinary course of business transactions which
the wants of man and the division of labor make necessary. For
the most part the sale of land pre-supposes a change of business
or a change of residence, which is entirely wanting in the usual
buying and selling of chattels. This is entirely true of rural real
estate however it may vary in the case of cities. Very few farms
are the subject of speculation, though they are sometimes so con-
sidered when held for long periods by non-residents as perma-
nent investments. Another difficulty comes in the matter of
classification; cattle, grain, groceries, what not, can be put into
grades and quoted at prices with reasonable accuracy, but in
grading land only the roughest outlines can be set and even these
must be elastic or they will be obliterated by over-lappings and
   Another difficulty. and this probably as serious as any, is in the
 records of sales. The carefulness and accuracy with which rec-
 ords of transfers of land are made may seem at a glance to make
 it possible to investigate this phase of prices more easily than in the
 case of personal property, but when the purpose of the record is
 considered the balance is found on the other side. When even
 so loose an authority as a newspaper quotes wheat at fifty cents,
 and calico at ten cents, at a date now out of memory, it may safely
 be assumed that these prices are approximately correct. In the
 first place there are probably no reasons for deliberate misstate-
 ments; more than likely the accuracy may be tested by comparison
 with other quotations. And, moreover, the sole purpose of pub-
 lishing the price-list was to let it be known that goods could be
 bought and sold for the sums named. On the other hand, a piece
 of land is sold, and the deed, containing a statement of the con-
 sideration, is recorded by a county officer and the record carefully
 preserved. But the ultimate reason, in fact all save the only rea-
 son, is to furnish proof that the farm was sold by one person to

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