Dollar symbol and its origin

The dollar is the currency of the United States and many other countries.  The dollar sign is undoubtedly the most popular symbol around the world. But what is behind the past of the S with two vertical lines? It is also considered the most valuable currency. The history and versions of the origin of the icon, which has become the most influential symbol of our time.

The history and origin of Dollar Symbol

The First appearance of the dollar sign in US history An interesting fact – everything connected with the dollar (its symbol, history) is shrouded in a veil of mystery. Does the dollar have an occult meaning under it or this veil appeared due to human love for legends … the question remains open. Take, for example, the history of the appearance of the dollar sign. As you know, the first mention of the use of the dollar sign appeared in the 18th century. Isn’t there a documented case of the first use of the dollar sign? And again we get bread crumbs in the form of rumors … We owe one of the most popular versions of the first application of the dollar sign to a man named Oliver Pollock. A businessman and arms dealer, Pollock supplied weapons to the Americans who fought for their independence in the American-British War.

To make it easier to keep track of the weapons sold, Pollock used the modern dollar sign. Pollock presented the entire trade to Congressman Morris, who put the dollar sign into wide circulation. A more reasoned version of the first appearance of the dollar symbol is the mention in the book of Chauncey Lee. The author proposed a list of symbols to denote monetary units, among which were the dollar symbol – Lee suggested that it be denoted by the double S with two slashes. Experts believe that Chauncey Lee was not the first author who tried to propose such a variant of the dollar. The name Dollar comes from the seemingly completely different word Joachimsthaler – the name of a 16th-century coin that was minted near a silver mine in Joachimstal, in the territory of the modern Czech Republic. Soon it was reduced to a thaler, and the Danes converted it to a dealer. Subsequently, the British changed its pronunciation to a more consonant dollar. In England XVII-XVIII centuries.  … The King of Norway asked for peace, But before committing the dead to earth, He had to give us ten thousand dollars on the island of St. Colm … W. Shakespeare, “Macbeth” (translated by Y. Korneev) Dollar sign style options The dollar sign was originally a Latin letter S with two vertical strokes.

The meaning of the Dollar Symbol 

The history of the origin of the dollar sign is dark, and its meaning is unclear. Over the two centuries of the dollar, many different versions have emerged. The most likely version of the origin is from the Spanish abbreviation P’s. denoting peso or piaster. Subsequently, only a vertical bar (for the write speed) remained from P, and S served as a background for it. It is sometimes believed that the crossed-out S is nothing more than the remainder of the crossed-out eight. In North America, for cash payments while widely used Spanish realities that weighed (and cost) 1 / 8 of the British pound and were called “eighth-notes” (piece of eight). This version was once promoted by the American writer Ayn Rand. It was designated by the letters LLS (or ll s ). In abbreviated writing, two letters ll were superimposed on the letter S to create a kind of dollar sign. There is also an exotic version explaining the origin of this mysterious sign from the modified reverse of the Austrian thaler – crucified Jesus and a snake entwining the cross.

Finally, let us mention a completely trivial version, which deduces the dollar sign from the shilling, which was denoted by the letter S (abbreviated from Shilling), sometimes “backed up” by a vertical bar.
The generally accepted order of writing the dollar sign in front of the amount of money is a tradition inherited by the Americans from the British.
Other theories do not deserve our attention, since they do not have the slightest foundation, and are most likely an invention of the authors. Or too tied to the occult and conspiracy theories. But perhaps we could have missed something. If you know anything about the first appearance of the dollar sign, be sure to tell about it in the comments.

Dollar sign – versions of origin


Even though the US dollar symbol appeared relatively recently by the standards of world history, it is extremely difficult to trace the roots of its origin. Because of this, there are many versions about the origin of the notorious dollar sign.

In the next and most entertaining part of our article, we will look at all the most popular versions of the origin of the dollar symbol.


Spanish version of the appearance of the sign


Let’s start our journey through the history of the origin of the dollar sign with one of the unpopular, but very interesting version. In the days when America was still the New World, conquistadors exported gold from their colonies in huge quantities. The bars were marked with the letter S – this means that the bars are sent to Spain. Moreover, for control purposes, when sending, the letter S was vertically crossed out, and upon arrival, another vertical line was put.

Royal version


No less authoritative is the royal version of the origin of the symbol. The version says that the US dollar symbol is a “descendant” of the royal coat of arms – two pillars of Hercules entwined with a ribbon. Initially, the coat of arms in its original form was decorated with the Mexican dollar – peso.
Of course, the royal coat of arms of Spain and the dollar sign are not very similar, but despite this, the version is considered authoritative.

Ancient Roman sesterces


Another entertaining version is rooted directly in ancient Rome. In those days, in Rome, there was such a monetary unit as sestertius – it was designated as IIS. We put the first two letters on the S and get the dollar sign.

A logical question arises: why exactly the ancient Roman monetary unit was taken as a basis? Without an answer to this question, the version could be considered an ordinary fiction. Oddly enough, there is an answer to this question and it is quite trivial – everything connected with ancient Rome was very popular during the Enlightenment in America. The legacy of this interest in ancient Roman culture remains to this day – the US Congress is usually called the Capitol, and the upper house of Congress in the Senate.

Other versions


The theories on the origin of the dollar sign below are less authoritative, but no less interesting:
There is a classical theory that the dollar sign came from the abbreviation US. If we put a U on top of the S, we can see the familiar shape. Rumor has it that this theory was created specifically to move away from the Spanish and royal theory.


Another “abbreviated” version is the “Ps” theory. The main currency at that time was the peso, which was written as Ps. Again, take S, put P, and get $. This is how the dollar symbol with one vertical line was formed. This version seems less plausible, but unlike the version above, the Ps theory is supported by facts. Remember Oliver Pollock? In the accounting reports he sent to Congress, both pesos (Ps) and $ were listed next to the numbers.
In the 15th – 17th centuries, in Western Europe, there were their designations of categories. For a thousand, a symbol was used called Safran – the letter S with one vertical stripe. This version seems to be the most logical, but is not considered authoritative.


We have listed the most famous and interesting versions of the origin of the dollar sign. If you wish, you can find even more versions from a huge variety – you don’t have to go far for information about theories.

Unfortunately, we were not able to fully immerse ourselves in the history of the creation of the most significant symbol in the world due to a lack of facts. Perhaps this is even better – the stories of the greats should be at least slightly covered in secrets. We tried to fully (as far as possible) tell you about the dollar sign, relying only on truthful information.

Let this mysterious letter $ with two vertical lines always be your faithful companion.


HTML writing


$ (Dollar sign keyboard )

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