A US dollar was a day’s pay in silver

Furthermore, shillings had been produced in the colonies without authorisation from the British authorities.

In 1652 John Hall set up a private mint in Massachusetts and produced coins known as pine tree shillings because of the picture of a pine tree stamped on them. His mint was forced to close in 1684, but because of it the word shilling would still have carried patriotic connotations a century later.


The dollar was the shilling.

The shilling was the dollar.

Five shillings approximated to a week’s wages throughout history, being 4 ounces or one quarter of a Lb in weight (16 ounces) of silver, £ being Libra, the Latin for Pound  – being a month’s pay until paper money detached from precious metal (1914 in England).  Until paper money came along in the last decade of the 18th century, all monetary units were weights of silver.  The $ means shilling.  Shilling means silver.  A single dollar was 80% of an ounce – a nice size to carry round in your pocket or wallet, and a day’s pay.  A full ounce at 31 grams is a quite a heavy piece, and was an inconvenient coin as it was more than a day’s pay.

A day’s pay today in the USA would be $100-$200.  That’s the measure of inflation of the US$ since the Dollar was adopted.