24 May 2010
The Dollar Sign
The dollar sign is also known as the peso sign and is used to indicate the various dollar and peso units of currency around the world.
One explanation is that it is derived from the superimposition of the U and S of United States.
On the far end of likelihood is the theory is that the sign is linked to the slave trade, and the Spanish words for a slave (esclavo) and the nail (clavo) that locked the shackles. It is suggested that an S with a nail (S and clavo) was written as $.
The sign is found in business correspondence between the British, Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans in the 1770s, as referring to the Spanish-Mexican peso, which was also known as the "Spanish dollar" or "pieces of eight." It was adopted as U.S. currency in 1785, together with the term "dollar" and the $ sign.
The most widely accepted explanation is that it is the result of the evolution of the Spanish and Mexican scribal abbreviation "ps" for pesos. This theory, derived from a study of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century manuscripts, explains that the s gradually came to be written over the p developing a close equivalent to the "$" mark
Oddly, neither US paper bills nor coins actually feature the $ sign.