Mudcat Café message #3485140 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149707   Message #3485140
Posted By: beardedbruce
01-Mar-13 - 12:30 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: why is the US dollar called a 'buck?'
Subject: RE: Folklore: why is the US dollar called a 'buck?'

During the colonial period, the spanish pillar dollar "Piece of eight" ,which was often cut into halves and quarters , was in circulation, along with many other coins. The weight was the value- a silver piece that had the weight of a dollar was worth a dollar. In general the US dollar was not cut up.

For many years, the standard denomination used between banks to balance exchanges was the half-dollar- hence the avaliability of many older ones that had been in bank bags for the last 100-180 years.

US Coinage was started in 1792. In the early days, ANYONE could take assayed metal ( gold, silver) to the Mint and get coins of equal weight ( minus a small fee) made.

Trade tokens were sometimes used when small change was not available, especially during and after the Civil War. There were many "private" coinages of gold in California, post 1849.
In some, the weight rather than value was used- there were several series of small ingots with the assayed weight and purity that circulated.

BTW, the standard units of US coinage were the mill, the cent ( 10 mills), the dime ( 10 cents), the dollar ( 10 dimes or 100 cents) , the eagle ( 10 dollars), and the union ( 10 eagles)

Coinage has been in the following denominations:

1/2 cent ( copper)
1 cent (copper, steel, now zinc)
2 cents (copper)
3 cents ( both nickel and silver)
5 cents ( both nickel and silver)
10 cents (silver, now nickel and copper)
20 cents (silver)
25 cents ( gold, silver, now nickel and copper)
50 cents (gold, silver, now nickel and copper)
1 dollar ( gold, silver, nickel and copper, now manganese bronze)
$2.50 (gold)
$3 (gold)
$4 (gold)
$5 (gold)
$10 ( gold)
$20 (gold)
$50 (gold)

This does NOT include the current "bullion" coins, with face values of $1 for an ounce of silver and $100 for an ounce of Platinum. They are in 1 oz silver, 1/10 , 1/4, 1/2, and 1 oz gold, and 1/10 , 1/4, 1/2, and 1 oz platinum