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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/534

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528
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

and the colonies of the United States. It was a remarkable coincidence that all three names by which the Spanish dollar was best known, namely the "peso," "piastre" and "piece of eight," began with the letter p and all three were pluralized by the use of the letter s. Hence p and ps admirably answered as abbreviations of any of these names. The symbols in Fig. 3 show that the usual abbreviation was a ps or p, the letter p taking sometimes a florescent form and the s in ps being as a rule raised above the p. The p and the s are often connected, showing that they were written in these instances by one uninterrupted motion of the pen. As seen in Fig. 3, the same manuscript sometimes shows symbols of widely different shapes. The capital P is a rare occurrence. We have seen it used at the beginning of sentences and a few times written in ledgers at the top of columns of figures. In the sixteenth century the ps had above it a mark indicating the omission of part of the word, thus ps. Sometimes the contraction of the word "pesos" was "pss." or "pos." Not infrequently two or more different abbreviations are found in one and the same manuscript. The body of the text may contain the word written out in full, or contracted to "pss" or "pos," while the margin or the head of a column of figures may exhibit ps or simply p. These were the abbreviations used by the Spanish-Americans from the sixteenth century down to about 1820 or

PSM V81 D534 The modern dollar mark in the making.png

Fig. 4. The Modern Dollar Mark in the Making. From copy of letter by Oliver Pollock at New Orleans to George Roger Clark, 1778. (Wis. Hist. Libr., Madison, Draper Coll., Vol. 38 J, p. 37.)

1830. The transition from the ps to our modern dollar mark was not made by the Spaniards; it was made by the English-speaking people who came in contact with the Spaniards. At the time when Mexico achieved its independence (1821), the $ was not yet in vogue there.