There is a belief that says that the dollar sign with two vertical
lines going through the "S" is a quickly scribbled and superimposed U
over an S ... short for U.S. This is a quaint and endearing notion
... and like many a quaint and endearing notions ... it is wrong.
Then there is the belief that the dollar sign derives from the figure
8 representing the Spanish piece of eight. Alas, this too--although
it seems to make sense--is erroneous.
How many wrongs--you may well ask--does one have to navigate through
in order to arrive at a right? No more lads and lassies. For here is
how the dollar sign came to be:
It derives from the Spanish peso. The peso begins with the letter P
and the plural-pesos--would be initialized with a P followed by an S.
This was at one time written as "ps" and later written as a P with a
superscript S. Now ... write this nice and slow and it all works
fine. However ... speed things up a bit ... and it all becomes a tad
muddled ... and the two letters begin to superimpose themselves one
over the other ... and the P loses its curve and the whole thing
begins to look like the dollar sign we all know and love today. No
great U.S. symbolism here folks ... just sloppy handwriting to depict
the plural of peso. Another grand fancy dashed to smithereens in the
cold light of reality.
Then-of course-there's the question of how the word Dollar came into
being. Alas and alack ... this too is not American in origin. It's
Dutch or Low German ... from the word Daler (Taler in German) a word
used to describe a coin from the silver mines of Joachimstal, in
Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) which dates back to the
All this of course is by way of an insanely clever lead-in to a pair
of dollar-sign cufflinks with pave diamonds.