Where Currencies Get Their Signs

In the wake of India’s recent selection of a new symbol for the rupee, Christopher Beam at Slate traces the origins of various currency symbols. The dollar sign, for instance: “When the United States adopted its own currency in 1785, it used Spanish money as its model — a deliberate ’screw you’ to the British.” The symbol for the British pound, meanwhile, comes from the Latin word for scales (libra).

By FREAKONOMICS

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