- , PILLARS OF HERCULESThe word dollar, the basic monetary unit of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and a few smaller countries, has a history that goes back to the sixteenth century. The locale was Bohemia, now a part of the Czech Republic.In the valley of Joachimasthal was a mint that coined silver money called Joachimsthalern. In the early 1500s a rich silver mine was discovered there. The Counts of Shlick, who owned the mine, began to coin the silver in one-ounce pieces, and the coins were known as Schlickenthalers, after the name of the counts. The simplified thalers became a more popular name. The Danes called them dalers, from which one can see the emergence of the English word dollar.There is a connection between the English and Spanish languages regarding the word dollar. The American dollar sign is either a capital S with two vertical lines superimposed on it or the letter S superimposed on the letter U. How the symbol arose has never been fully explained. The most widely accepted belief is that it was taken from the Spanish dollar, commonly know as "a piece of eight" because an 8 was impressed on it. The 8 stands for eight reales (Spanish coins), the value of the dollar. The official name for the old Spanish dollar was pillar, from the original name of the Strait of Gibraltar, the Pillars of Hercules, the farthest point that seafaring men dared go. Its symbol was an S, for Spain, with two vertical strokes that represented the famous Pillars.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.