Ever wonder where the word 'dollar' comes from? Look to the European town Joachimsthal, where silver was mined in the 1500s and then turned into coins called Joachimsthalers. Over the years, this name was shortened to ‘thaler’, and eventually became ‘dollar’.
The Dollar Sign
The dollar sign is believed to have originated from old Spanish eight reale coins (the coins known to pirates as “pieces of eight”). The reverse of these coins features a pillar of Hercules with a ribbon wrapped around it… looking very much like the $ symbol we now know so well.
Sir Henry Parkes and the Holey Dollar
Australia’s first minted coin, the Holey Dollar, is a much sought after coin for collectors. One holey dollar held by the Royal Australian Mint is even more special as it was once owned by Australia’s father of federation, Sir Henry Parkes.
Before decimal currency, many Australians enjoyed the Christmas tradition of putting threepences and sixpences in their Christmas puddings, to be found by lucky family members during Christmas lunch. Sadly, decimal coins are made of different metals and are not suitable to mix with food.
The Secret of the Medal
Many of Australia’s one and two cent coins were melted down to be turned into the bronze medals for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. These coins had been to many places in the country, and had been touched by many different people. Not only did we melt the coins together, but we melted together enough stories to say that everyone in Australia was part of those Olympics.