The unknown origin of the dollar in the Spanish Empire: the first global currency

Among the different interpretations of the origin of the symbol ‘$’, the most widely accepted, and supported by the United States Office of Engraving and Printing, is that it is an evolution of the Spanish abbreviation ‘Ps’, which was used to abbreviate the name of the pesos, piastres or pieces of eight (the Spanish silver reales) during the 18th to 19th centuries in the American territories. The use of the real de a ocho, known as the ‘Spanish dollar’, was widespread in the North American markets when the dollar symbol was adopted in 1785, so that for the Americans it was a clear reference for the composition of their own currency. . Not surprisingly, another theory about the origin of the dollar that also has the Spanish silver reals as its protagonist. According to this, the ‘$’ symbol would not be an adaptation of the abbreviation ‘Ps’, but a stylization of the Pillars of Hercules that appeared on the Spanish coins minted in the Mint of Mexico and spread throughout the continent. The vertical bars would be the columns and the S would be the band with the legend ‘Plus Ultra’ that wrapped them. The Mint of Mexico – one of the first mints in all of America – stamped on the ingots and coins that traveled in the Indies Fleets bound for the Royal Treasury, a shield made up of two vertical bars representing the Pillars of Hercules ( as the Strait of Gibraltar was then known) originally intertwined by a band with the legend “Non Plus Ultra” (later just “Plus Ultra”, an assumption that in ancient times this place was held as the last point of the known world. Obverse of a real de a ocho minted in 1770 at the Bogotá abc mint Originally, Spanish silver reales were made with 27 grams of silver and were widely used on the continent, not only in the lands of the Spanish Crown, but also by the United States , where it was present until its use was prohibited in 1857. Despite the fact that the US dollar had been in circulation since 1792, the shortage of currency that caused the War of Independence against the British Empire ánico promoted the use of Spanish reales. The parity of the American dollar and the Spanish currency was total during several decades of coexistence in the new republic. Its citizens, the face value being identical, normally preferred Spanish duros to the new American dollars, because the Spanish had more physical silver content. The Spanish currency was in force in the United States until its use was prohibited in 1857. The Manila Galleon, which made the journey between Mexico and the Philippines, transported these coins to exchange them for exotic products from the Orient The eight reales were the first currency universal, since they not only circulated in Europe and America, but also in Asia. The Manila Galleon, which made the journey between Mexico and the Philippines, transported these coins to exchange them for exotic products from the Orient such as silks, porcelain or Manila shawls. Chinese merchants only accepted silver as exchange for their wares. The origin of the word dollar The reales de a ocho were known as “taleros”, due to their resemblance to the German Thaler, a large silver coin that circulated in Central Europe at the end of the 15th century that derived different names throughout Europe: the Rigsdaler in Denmark, Rijkddaaler in the Netherlands, El Talar in Poland, Tallero in Italy, Jocandale in France and Jefirmak in Russia. MORE INFORMATION noticia Yes Alfonso Borrego, great-grandson of the Apache Gerónimo, in Madrid: “The English killed the Indians, not the Spaniards” noticia No Nine curiosities about the Spanish flag that perhaps you were unaware of When the US was born, the name de Pillar-Dollar (Pillar, translating as column, in reference to the Pillars of Hercules) – by then already widespread in Anglo-Saxon culture to designate coins – served to refer to the Spanish peso or piece of eight reales. In short, the own currency used by the US inherited this designation from German tradition.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick