Business

BBC – Capital – The curious origin of the dollar symbol




The dollar signal is one of the world's most potent symbols, symbolic of far more than US currency.

It is short for the American dream and all the consumption and commodification that comes with it, which clarifies solar radiation, splashy greed and fierce capitalism. It has been co-opted by pop culture (think Ke $ ha when she first started, or a few quick t-shirts) and borrowed by artists. (Salvador Dali fashion a mustache from it, and Andy Warhol did it in acrylic and silk screen, creating an iconic workgroup selling now for $.]

You may also like: [19659002] – Why airlines longer trips on purpose
– How DIY furniture you get more use
– Why we should work less

It is widely used in data coding and it gives money and mouth emoji with its dazed eyes and lolling tongue In spite of its polyglot ubiquity, the origin of the dollar is far from clear, with competing theories affecting buck pockets, Hercules pills, and the harlot merchants.

Dollars siblings, the all-but-worthless east, are logically represented by a small letter & # 39; c & # 39; with a line through it, but there is no & # 39; D & # 39; in the dollar sign. If you had to find letters lurking in their form, you could spy a & # 39; 39; overlain with a pinch, bend-less & # 39; vertical stroke. is one of the most popular misconceptions about the origin of the characters: It stands for the United States, right?

That was what the author and philosopher and famous libertarian Ayn Rand thought. In a chapter in the 1[ads1]957 short story Atlas Shrugged asks a character about what the dollar sign stands for. The answer contains these lines: "For achievement, for success, for ability, for man's creative power – and precisely for these reasons, it is used as a mark of infamy. It stands for US initials.

It seems that Rand had wrong, not least because until 1776, the United States was known as United Colonies of America, and there is a suggestion that the dollar sign was used before the US was born.

The British pound sign has a history dating back 1200 years when it first became used by the Romans as an abbreviation for "libra pondo", the empire's basic weight unit. As any amateur astrologer will tell you, libra means scales in Latin, and libra pondo literally translates as a pound by weight.

In Anglo-Saxon England, the pound was a currency unit equivalent to – surprise surprise – a pound of silver, great wealth, in other words, but along with the Roman name, the Anglo-Saxons borrowed the sign, an ornate letter & # 39; L & # 39; which suggests that it is an abbreviation, and a check in London's Bank of England Museum shows that the pound sign had assumed its present form by 1661, although it took a little longer for it to be universally adopted. [19659011] Logically, if it did not exist, the coin was called the joachimsthal, which was then shortened to thaler, the word that continued to spread around the world.

Meanwhile, the dollar has a much shorter history. In 1520, the Kingdom of Bohemia began to coin coins by means of silver from a mine in Joachimsthal – which roughly translates from German into English as Joachim's valley. Logically, if unimaginatively, the coin was called joachimsthaler, which was then shortened to thaler, the word which continued to spread around the world. It was the Dutch variant, the valley, which came across the Atlantic Ocean in its pockets and tongues of early immigrants, and today's American-English pronunciation of the word dollar retains its echo.

Despite the relative youthfulness of the currency, however, there is no good answer to the question of where the dollar sign slipped out. No one seems to have sat down to design it, and the shape still fluctuates – sometimes it has two lines through it, increasingly just the one. Not that there are not many competing hypotheses. For example, circling back to the idea that there is a U and a S hidden in its form, it is suggested that they represent "silver units".

One of the most esoteric origin stories links it back to the Bohemian speaker, which contained a snake on a Christian cross. That in itself was an explanation of the story of Moses winding a bronze snake around a pole to cure people who had been bitten. The dollar, as it is said, derived from that sign.

Another version centers on the Hercules pills, a sentence encouraged by the ancient Greeks to describe the protrusions flanking the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The columns are found in Spain's national coat of arms, and in the 18th and 19th centuries appeared on the Spanish dollar, which was otherwise known as a piece of eight or peso. The columns have banners forced around them in an S-shape, and it doesn't take much to see the resemblance to the dollar sign.

The most accepted theory actually involves Spanish coins, and so it goes: In the colonies, the trade between Spanish Americans and English Americans was lively, and peso or peso de ocho reales was legal tender in the United States until 1857. It was often abbreviated, so historians tell us, to the first "P" with a "S" turns next to it in the recipe. Gradually, thanks to the scratch cards for time-consuming salespeople and scribes, "P" merged with "S" and lost the basket, leaving the vertical stroke as a wager in the middle of "S". A Spanish dollar was more or less worth a US dollar, so it's easy to see how the sign may have transferred.

As with all American at the moment, there is a partisan dimension to the debate about the sign of the dollar sign: for dueling Political reasons favor a faction that it is homemade, another that it was imported.

There is a partisan dimension to the debate about the dollar sign's ancestors: to derive political reasons, a faction favors the idea that it is homemade, another that it was imported

It is surely ironic – but not surprisingly – that a symbol That is so natural for American national character, can have its roots in another country altogether. But no matter how it was, it is certainly an American invention: he may not have been the only creator, but the correspondence of Irish-born Oliver Pollock, a wealthy trader and early supporter of the American Revolution, has led him to often refer to historians as its originator.

And for the first time, the printed dollar sign was made on a Philadelphia printing press in the 1790s, and was the work of a strong American patriot – or at least a fierce anti-English Scotsman – called Archibald Binny, who is today remembered as the creator of the Monticello font.

Of course, if you really want to haul a rabbit hole of mysterious symbolism, try looking at the origins of US dollar bill design.

To comment on this story or anything else you have looked at BBC Capital, please visit our Facebook page or let us know Twitter .

If you liked this story, opt for the weekly bbc.com feature newsletter called "If You Only Read 6 Things This Week". A hand-picked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Capital and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.



Source link

Back to top button