The origin of the Dollar can be
traced back to Joachimsthal or ‘Saint
Joachim’s Valley’ in Bohemia, where silver was discovered in
The local ruler, Count of Schlick, coined the metal into large coins nicknamed Joachimsthalers.
The coin became the basic currency
of the district and neighbouring areas also adopted
and imitated the Joachimsthaler – which was
abbreviated to the shorter and neater Thaler.
Joachimsthaler of 1525
Within a comparatively short time,
many European regions had a large silver coin resembling the Thaler, among them the Talar
(Saxony), Tallero (Italy), Daalder
(Holland) and the Daler (Scandinavia). The
equivalent English word was Dollar.
A 30-shilling silver coin known as
the Sword Dollar was issued in Scotland under King James VI between 1567-71. Thistle Dollars were used in Scotland
during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Spanish Dollars (eight-real coins
aka ‘pieces-of-eight’) were minted by Spain’s
colonial mints in the Americas.
Widely accepted as international
currency, Spanish Dollars found their way to Britain’s North American
colonies where pounds, shillings, and pence were scarce.
Portrayed on Spanish Dollars, the
Pillars of Hercules and their spiralling banners
are reputedly the origin of the ‘$’ sign.
The design on Spanish
‘Pillar’ Dollars may explain the ‘$’ symbol.
The first Dollar coins issued by
the United States Mint (founded 1792) were similar in size and composition to
the Spanish Dollar.
In New South Wales, 40,000 Spanish
Dollars were converted into the colony’s first official coinage –
the famous Holey Dollar and Dump – issued in 1813.
Australia’s decimal currency
was originally going to be called the Royal. But a public outcry at the
prospect compelled to Government to adopt the name Dollar