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Early U.S. Monetary Nomenclature

   Posted by: craig Tags: , , , , ,

As I am looking forward to several upcoming Steampunk events, I became curious to know what monetary terminology would be most appropriate when conducting business with the dealers I’ll find there. Here is what my research produced.

Part I: Early U.S. Monetary Nomenclature that is Still Useful Today

Penny, Nickel, Dime, Quarter
As today (1793-).
Backslang for a penny (i.e. the word “penny” spoken phonemically backwards). Backslang evolved in Victorian England to enable private or secret conversation among street and market traders, notably butchers and greengrocers. Yennaps (pl.) refers to money, in general.
A very small amount of money, as in a handful of pennies. (“I picked it up for coppers at the Five and Dime.”)
Two Bits
25¢, i.e. two-eights of a dollar. Holdover from the Spanish dollar which was worth eight reales (as in “pieces of eight”), or eight “bits.” (“Shave and a haircut, two bits!”) Read the rest of this entry »