Blue plaque for Irishman who invented dollar sign

Posted By: April 15, 2016

Seamus McKinney. Irish News (Belfast).Friday, April 15, 2016

A blue plaque is unveiled outside the Sollus Centre in the village of Bready, Co-Tyrone by the Ulster History circle. Celebrating Oliver Pollock who was born near Bready and later created the Dollar $ign while working as a highly successful merchant in America. The plaque was unveiled by US Consel General Daniel J Lawton, with mayor Elisha McCallion, friends of the Ulster History Circle and local residents on Thursday afternoon. L TO R Chris Spurr,chair of Ulster History Circle, Mayor Elisha McCallion, US Consul General Daniel J Lawton and James Kee,Bready Ulster scots. Picture Margaret Mclaughlin �© please by-line see press release from UHC. 14-4-16.
A blue plaque has been erected in memory of the Co Tyrone man who gave the world the ‘$’ dollar symbol, even if only by accident.

The Ulster History Circle yesterday unveiled its 200th plaque at the Sollus Centre at Bready on the main Derry to Strabane road in memory of local man Oliver Pollock.

A hugely successful businessman, Pollock helped finance the US War of Independence against Britain.

However, he is also credited with developing the ‘$’ symbol known the world over.

Having emigrated at the age of 25, Pollock first worked as a merchant in the West Indies with a headquarters at Havana, Cuba.

His ability to make alliances brought him great commercial success and he quickly became an influential political figure.

In the following years Pollock developed his business empire alongside a military career.

An unpaid debt led to him spending time in prison in the 1780s, but he was able to rebuild his career afterwards.

Despite his influence in military and business matters, it is believed that it was Pollock’s poor handwriting which gave him his greatest place in history.

In his financial books, the Co Tyrone man notated monetary dealings with the Spanish Peso currency as ‘ps’.

He then shortened this by running the ‘p’ and ‘s’ together, which in turn was abbreviated to ‘$’ and adopted as the symbol of the US dollar.

Chris Spurr, chairman of the Ulster History Circle, said the Pollock blue plaque is a milestone for the organisation.

The charity is dedicated to erecting plaques throughout the nine counties of Ulster to celebrate people of achievement.

Mr Spurr said its first was erected back in the early 1980s at Stranmillis Road in Belfast in memory of the artist William Conor.

“We are grateful to all those who have supported our plaques over the years without whom our work could not happen and our thanks are due to the Ulster-Scots Agency for supporting today’s plaque,” he said.

“Choosing Oliver Pollock and Bready for our milestone plaque reminds people that the Ulster History Circle has a place as much in the smaller historic communities as in the big cities.

“In devising the dollar sign, Oliver Pollock created a small symbol which made a big impact. We hope our plaques do the same.”