Thursday, October 9

Pieces of Eight

No, not this kind.

THIS kind:

Our pirate unit study is still lingering. We will begin an election unit study do-or-die come Monday. Until then, we covered Pieces of Eight as part of our vocabulary today. Ready for a history lesson?

This is a Spanish Dollar. It is a silver coin that is worth eight of another Spanish coin, the Reale ("royal".) Minted in 1497, it became the first world currency by the late 1700's. A piece of eight was equivalent to what we call the dollar. The coins were commonly cut up into 8 pieces, known as "bits" and sometimes in 4ths to make change when coinage was in short supply. So, in the movies, when someone asks for two bits, you now know that they mean a quarter.

It was considered legal tender in the United States up until 1857. The coin is similar to the 'thaler', issued in Bohemia since 1517. Pronounced "tall-er" in German, it became known as the dollar in French in English.

Now, don't you feel smart?

1 comment:

Lawanda said...

That is so cool! I never knew that! I mean I had heard about 2 bits being a quarter, but never knew why. And how cool about the word "thaler" becoming "dollar". I love words.

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