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It’s strange but true — your crisp “dollar” comes from the word “Joachimsthaler.” Here’s the story.

Today, this humble blog gets serious. Prepare to unravel (some) of the mysteries of money.

Open your wallet and take out a dollar bill. What is this complicated piece of paper that so much of your life depends on? And really, what’s the deal with the pyramid with an eye on top? (Here’s a decent answer.)

The U.S. is one of many countries to call their currency a dollar. The common ancestor is the taler (pronounced like “dollar”), also spelled thaler, a series of silver coins minted in Germany in the 1500s. You can thank a man with a great name, Count Hieronymus Schlick of Bohemia, for coining the term Joachimsthaler after the place where the silver was mined in what is now the Czech Republic. It won’t surprise you to learn that this five-syllable mouthful was shortened to taler in everyday use, and transformed into dollar by English speakers.

In the thirteen colonies, a Spanish coin called pieces of eight came to be called Spanish dollars because of their resemblance to talers. After the American Revolution, the United States wasn’t exactly a nation of Anglophiles. The Continental Congress didn’t think America should be conducting free enterprise in pounds, which had been the currency under Britain.  They settled on dollar, and defined the silver dollar as containing approximately 11% silver per coin.

The first dollar bill was produced in 1862, and George Washington was not on it. In fact, if we were gamblers we would happily bet a dollar that you’ve never heard of the man whose face was printed instead, Salmon P. Chase.

Are you still looking at your dollar bill? Why is it called a buck? This is probably short for buckskin, a unit of exchange among fur traders.

If we had a dollar for every interesting question about U.S. currency, we’d be billionaires. We do have a wealth of information, however. What makes you curious about the money in your wallet? The numbers? The unusual words? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to give you priceless answers in future posts.

‘Stand-in’ Democratic candidates will debate in county April 21

Sunday News Lancaster, PA April 14, 2002 | Helen Colwell Adams Former lieutenant governor Mark Singel and one of the Casey brothers will act as surrogates for the Democratic Party’s governor candidates at what local party leaders are terming “the closest thing to a gubernatorial debate expected to be scheduled in Lancaster County.” Singel and Patrick Casey will headline the county Democrats’ “Proud to Be a Democrat Celebration” Sunday, April 21, at Maple Grove Community Center, 1420 Columbia Ave.

Patrick Casey will speak on behalf of his brother, governor candidate Bob Casey Jr. Singel, who was lieutenant governor under the Caseys’ father, Bob Casey Sr., will represent the campaign of former Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell. go to site maple grove community center

County Democratic chairman Scott Brubaker said the forum is a way for Democrats to learn more about the candidates, who are battling each other for the party’s nomination in the primary.

“This will be exciting,” Brubaker said. maplegrovecommunitycenternow.net maple grove community center

Singel is a managing director of Public Affairs Management LLC in Harrisburg. Patrick Casey, who ran for Congress in northeastern Pennsylvania in 1998 and 2000, is political director for the Casey for Governor campaign.

The format for the spring fund-raiser is similar to one of the local Democrats’ most successful events, a banquet in 1999 that featured speeches by four of the leading candidates for U.S. Senate in the 2000 election. About 175 people attended that dinner.

The April 21 event runs from 3-7 p.m. Cost is $30 per person; food and beverages will be served. Reservations are requested by Tuesday. Call party headquarters, 299-5701, for information.

Helen Colwell Adams

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