Today: Melanin, $384.50 a gram. Gold: $40.78 a gram. According to Infoplease.com, the skin of an average adult weighs 10 pounds. That’s 4,535.92 grams. 4,535.920 grams times $384.5 = $1,744,053.55! Compare that to the average cost of an unskilled slave (of any age, sex, or condition) in 1850 = $400. Additionally, the cost of a prime field hand (18-30 year-old man) in 1850 = $ 1,200. The cost of a skilled slave (e.g. a blacksmith) in 1850 is cited at $ 2,000. (NOTE) The data is from the Texas State Historical Association and it’s important to bear in mind that these values would vary state by state. The article “The Economics of American Negro Slavery” from the National Bureau of Economic Research is dated (1962) but very thorough in examining many of the aspects of this post.