From Thaler to the Dollar

Before the “Dollar” there was the Thaler. Yes, the Dollar was referred to as the Thaler before.

The Thaler was a silvercoin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in the many currencies called dollar and until recently, the Slovenian tolar. Further, the name of the Romanian and Moldovan currencies (Romanian and Moldovan Leu) comes from the Thaler via one of the Dutch daalders, the leeuwendaalder (“lion thaler”).

Etymologically, “Thaler” is an abbreviation of “Joachimsthaler”, a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal (Jáchymov) in Bohemia, where some of the first such coins were minted in 1518. Thal is German for “valley” – a “thaler” is a person or a thing “from the valley”. In the 1902 spelling reform, the German spelling was changed from “Thal” and “Thaler” to “Tal” and “Taler”, which however did not affect the spelling of “thaler” in English. The Czech spelling was tolar, many varieties of the term are used in different languages.


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