el dieciséis dia de septiembre de 2021

Image borrowed from https://images.search.yahoo.com/

CURRENCY

When many European countries got together to form the European Economic Community, we mortals found travelling a lot easier. Before 2000, we had to change dollars into French francs or Italian lire, etc. Now, thanks to the union, we need only exchange the dollar for the euro and it’s good to be used just about anywhere in the European Community, even in Vatican City! Please note that each country mints their own design for the euro, but a euro is a euro is a euro.

It was on the first day of January 2000, that the euro was formally introduced. In France, we had already started to exchange our francs for euros. I just happened to be in the French ski resort village of Les Gêts where I was accompanying youth from the parish on their winter ski vacation. Some of us were in a local shop that morning and I distinctly remember the opened cash drawer filled with shiny euro coins and fresh colorful paper bills. It was, for me, a historical moment way up in the French Alps.rThe euro currency sign was simple enough to make and to which to adapt. FF (French Franc) gave way to the new symbol found in the above image. Products were for awhile sold in euros or francs and then the franc was dropped, but products were marked with both symbols so the consumer had an idea of what the monetary value was by way of comparative analysis. One does not see the FF much more, but but banks are required to show on their statements how much money you have in both euros and francs.

If I travel, I usually go the same countries: Israel, France and the United States. So, to make life easier as regards currency, I have three wallets, each with shekels (NIS or New Israeli Shekels); Euros and U.S. dollars. Living in Panama, whose currency is the American dollar or the Balboa, you can interchange a nickel with a 25 balboa piece to make 30 cents. All paper money in Panama is U.S. currency. This is, for sure, very convenient and like many things in Panama, the story behind the currency in Panama is the canal. The end result is that I don’t have to have a special Panamanian wallet…I just have to be careful in the United States where a balboa penny would be rejected just as nowadays, Canadian coins are rejected in the United States. You might remember the days when Canadian coins easily intermingled with American coins…at least in the northern border states.

It is interesting to note the origin of the $ symbol used for the peso, the Canadian and American dollars. I am indebted to Leon Horka, a member of Quora since 2015 whose easy-to-follow flow chart shows the development of the symbols. The American (as in the United States) dollar symbol is technically indicated with 2 slashes while the peso and Canadian dollar use a single slash. We have to remember that Spain had influenced Mexico and the southwest United States years before an American currency showed up. In fact, the Peruvian/Mexican peso was the only global currency in play. Post-revolutionary Americans had no access the the British pound (nor did they want the access) so the American currency was adapted from the peso.

Through the years, the number of slashes apparently gave way to specific lettered indicators. Technically-speaking, the single slash through the ‘S’ is Mexican and Canadian, the double slash is American. Nowadays, only rarified circles know the difference so easy-to-understand letters are now used to avoid confusion. Hence USD or US$ and CAD or C$. I’ve noticed that American keyboards use the incorrect symbol and so the double slash is used only in handwritten form. French keyboards use the single slash while it offers the euro and British Pound sign. Latin American keyboards use the single-slash format in case you are wondering.

Published by Thomas

Retired from active priestly ministry in the Catholic Church; former Benedictine monk; francophile; Holocaust researcher; Delta One Million Miler; Ex-Patriated American to the Republic of Panama

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