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Where does the dollar sign come from?

Publish date 01 July 2014
Where does the dollar sign come from? image

The US dollar is the most popular currency in the world. But do you know where his sign comes from?

It first appeared in the 1970s in documents of Anglo-Americans who made deals with Hispanics.

However, it was not until the beginning of the 19th century that the sign gained popularity, and around that time the first official US dollars were cut.

Previously, the sign was already used as an abbreviation for names of Spanish currencies, and more precisely as an abbreviation for the Spanish peso "p".

So - how do you get from "p" to the dollar sign mce_markerrdquo ;? When financial documents referred to the peso, the peso was often abbreviated. For example “1 peso” to “1 p”.

However, when it is in the plural, such as "1000 pesos", the abbreviation is "ps".

When they filled out financial documents and had to write "ps" many times, the Anglo-American settlers began to merge "p" and "s" into one. The upper part of this merged symbol looked like something like the current dollar sign, but with two vertical lines, Business Insider writes.

In a further fit of laziness, the Anglo-American settlers began to write the letter "p" with only one vertical line crossing the letter "s" and thus the sign ‘mce_markerrsquo ;.

In some of the earliest documents containing this abbreviation, one can often see both versions of the "S" - intersecting with one and two dashes, which was a designation for the same thing - the Spanish peso.

But how did this sign, which originally symbolized the Spanish peso, become a symbol of the US dollar?

At about the same time as the United States minted its first dollar coins, in 1792 the Spanish currency was in serious circulation in the United States and around the world.

Largely because of this, the United States chose dollar coins to copy Spanish coins, in terms of material, weight, and therefore value (at that time, coins were made of silver, and their value was determined by that of silver).

This move by the United States allowed US coins to be exchanged against the peso at a rate of 1 to 1. Thus, it was natural to use the same symbol to denote the US dollar as was used for the Spanish peso.

One interesting thing to note is that Anglo-American settlers were the first to merge "ps," which eventually formed the dollar sign. Although the dollar sign originally referred to the peso, the Anglo-Americans "created" the symbol.

This is important only because it explains why dollar amounts are labeled "$ 10" instead of "10mce_markerrdquo;" as Hispanics would spell it. The sign of the British pound preceded the figure itself when writing a certain amount, which was also imposed on the dollar by the Anglo-American settlers.

There are also some theories that the dollar sign actually comes from the United States letters "U" and "S" written on top of each other, but these have been refuted in Florian Caggiori's 1929 book, A History of Mathematical Symbols “. There he cites some of the earliest documents containing the symbol "mce_markerrdquo;", in which not only the peso is spoken, but they themselves are from before the existence of the United States and the US dollar.

Another popular but false theory is that the dollar sign comes from the Spanish dollar. Spanish coins were known as octaves, and it is believed that the 8th formed an "S", and the line through it marked the currency.

Again, however, the earliest documents in which this symbol is used show that it is derived from and used in conjunction with 'ps', which denoted a peso, and not the smaller 'octaves'.

The name "dollar" comes from the word "thaler" which is an abbreviation of the word "Joachimstaller" - a type of coin from the city of Joachimstal in Bohemia. Today the city is within the borders of the Czech Republic, and its name is Jachimov. Some of the first coins were minted there in 1516.