It is interesting to observe that Spanish-Americans placed the ps after the numerals, thus 65ps, while the English colonists, being accustomed to write £ before the number of pounds, wrote the $ to the left of the numerals, thus $ 65. In the Argentine Republic the $ is to this day written to the right of the numerals, like this 65$.
The earliest known occurrence of the $ in print is in an American arithmetic, Chauncey Lee's "American Accomptant," published in 1797 at Lansingburgh. This fact was pointed out in 1899. A recent writer again calls attention to this arithmetic and then, with sweet simplicity of mind, conveys the idea that this publication constitutes the true origin of the dollar mark. By this mental short cut he saved himself the drudgery of a research which, in our case, has extended over several years. After 1800 the symbol began to be used freely, both in print and in writing. On September 29, 1802, William A. Washington wrote a letter on the disposal of part of the bottom land above the Potomac, belonging to the estate of George Washington. In this letter there is mention of "$20," "$30" and "$40" per acre.
In this article it has been established that the $ is the lineal descendent of the Spanish abbreviation p8 for "pesos,"that the change from the florescent p8 to $ was made about 1775 by English-Americans who came in business relations with Spanish-Americans, and that the earliest printed $ dates back to the year 1797.
- "Report of the Commissioner of Education," 1897-98, p. 811.
- Bankers' Magazine, Vol. 62, 1908, p. 857.
- Letter in Harper Memorial Library, University of Chicago.