Mudcat Café message #3485923 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149707   Message #3485923
Posted By: Ed T
03-Mar-13 - 03:17 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: why is the US dollar called a 'buck?'
Subject: RE: Folklore: why is the US dollar called a 'buck?'
Q, True,
However, I suspect the source of this information is with Canadian Heritage department who seems to be the source of this information (both on the use of Buck for male Beaver and the use of the term Buck, prior to the Beaver Made coin. - this is repeated on a number of web sites (no need to list them), and in a number of news articles. If you followed the discussion, you will note that I earlier noted the site I linked seems a bit "sketchy" an I indicated I would seek clearification from Cdn Heritage on its source (I believe they are closed on week-ends, and government folk tend to be slow in responding).

My reference was not at all to Canadian currency, of course, as it did not exist in those early days (as Canada did not). The reference was to an early fur trading HBC trading coin used before the Made Beaver trading coin was put into use, this is the one the Cdn Heritage site referrs to in the early colonial fur trade industry was locally called "a buck".

First British Colonial dollar used was Spanish?

Lighter, One mans "fact" is often seen as an opinion by another - this can often be influenced by the tone taken:-w hich is often difficult to determine on online chat sites). Nice to see your mudcat name matches your intent:)   

Oxford (and other) dictionaries are certainly a good general source of word definitions - origins. But, I suspect historical accuracy could be better served than with a dictonary definition of a word or two.

It is rare to see a word "pop up" out of nowhere. Language and terms most often evolve from more than one source. At times, they evolve on a separate course in different nations, from historic sources and different experiences of that population. I believe it is significant that both deer and beaver were used for their skins, not as fur. Both were historically and economically important- but Beaver skin may have been much more economically important in an earlier period. I suspect(though have no evidence) that the term skin (often used to refer to money) morphed into buck (for whatever historic reason).

If you read many perspectives of the word Buck (as in dollar) you will see that it was used very early in the USA. Below is an interesting perspective on Buck, that indicates that there many years spread between the common use of the word and industry use of the word in the USA (a 1748 source is cited in the article that seems reliable, which is also before the USA dollar existed):


""As the preferred slang term for what Washington Irving called "the almighty dollar," buck in all likelihood sprang from buck skin or buck hide -- a commodity of exchange, and metaphorically a loose measure of value, in Colonial trade with Native Americans. ("He has been robbed of the value of 300 Bucks, & you all know by whom" -- this 1748 quotation comes from the Ohio River Valley, and is cited in Mitford M. Mathews's A Dictionary of Americanisms.) The earliest undisputed example of buck in the precise sense of "dollar" ("mulcted for the sum of twenty bucks") has a Sacramento provenance, and dates back only to Gold Rush times. Although the Forty-niners may well have popularized this new sense, traders at outposts east of the Continental Divide were probably already using it; the scanty written records of vernacular speech of the time preclude certainty. Unlisted in early slang dictionaries, buck seems not to have gained national popularity until the 1890s -- a good example of the slow dissemination of slang in the days before radio, television, and the Internet."" source: Buck from 1748 to 1890's