RE: Traditional dollar sign

From: jim (
Date: Mon Oct 27 2003 - 10:12:58 CST

Simon Butcher wrote:

> My bank (ANZ) recently gave me literature related to obtaining foreign
> currency, and used the form $A (that is, with the double-bar form of
> the dollar sign, not the single-bar form). Considering the small
> glossy leaflet was about the rising Australian dollar, it's evidently
> a recent publication. Their website, however, obviously has no choice
> but to use the single-bar form due to font authors, who appear to be
> quite consistently using the single-bar form. Curiously, though, my
> bank statements from ANZ use this single-barred dollar sign ;)
> Considering recent publications, the site pasted (thanks to Kevin
> Brown), the wide knowledge of the (original) double-bar form of the
> dollar sign, and the fact that it's still taught at schools in
> Victoria, Tasmania, and New South Wales (possibly other states too,
> I'm unsure) - does this amount to reasonable evidence of an existing
> subset of users?

Not really.

I was taught the double-bar form for $ in school in Canada. I was also
taught to print single-story _a_ and open descender _g_ and _t_ without
a curl at the bottom. That never meant to me that fonts using other
forms were in any way *wrong*. Certainly _t_ without a curl is far from
a normal rendering in fonts.

What font did your bank use for that brochure?

While the single stroke $ is now much more common than the double stroke
version, there are popular fonts with the double stroke, for example,
most Garamond fonts, most Baskerville fonts, some versions of Caslon,
Einhard, Joanna ...

Whoever chose the font for the brochure may not have cared one way or
the other about the dollar sign symbol in particular.

That your bank statements on the other hand contaisn the single-bar form
indicates your bank considers either form acceptable. (It is not a great
deal of trouble to edit a font to add a second line to the dollar symbol
if the double stroke is really felt to be important, or to shift fonts
when printing the dollar sign.)

> The use of the single-bar dollar sign on the website Kevin provided
> (
> is obviously because there's no reliable method of displaying the
> double-bar form!

The website specifies Arial as the font. It could have specified a
sans-serif font with double-barred $ for automatic download if this was
important to the site designers. That is not totally reliable but is
effective on most browers in common use.

The website also says:

<< It is not considered practicable to prescribe, for all purposes,
exact symbols for dollars sad cents, or precise methods of expressing
dollars and cents in words or figures. Considerable latitude is to be
allowed to the public in this area, just as at present, in this and
other countries, there are several acceptable methods by which amounts
of money may be expressed. >>

It also indicates that other forms of the dollar sign are acceptable.

Unicode has, quite rightly I think, avoided encoding separately variants
of characters preferred in different countries or other environments
when they are recogniziably the same character with the same meaning
despite differences in presentation. Otherwise we would have Iranian
Arabic characters separately encoded from other Arabic characters,
Unicial Latin characters encoded separately from Roman characters and so

If a choice between single and double stroke in the dollar sign
indicates no change in meaning then Unicode should not encode it
separately, despite particular preferences that may exist in particular
environments, similar to particular differing preferences for italic
forms of Cyrillic characters. Such differences belong to the display
level, not to the data level.

This is especially so as government standards and reccomendations are
often notorious for not being followed in actuality. For example,
specifications for following an invariant design for the Euro symbol are
simply ignored.

Jim Allan

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