"buck" meaning dollar

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Dec 4 18:17:50 UTC 2006

some more text:

1848 Pioneer History: Being an Account of the First Examinations of the Ohio
Valley, and the Early Settlement of the Northwest Territory... By Samuel
Prescott Hildreth (Cincinnati) p.138:

On the frontiers, and especially among the Indians, the value of property was
estimated in bucks, instead of dollars or pounds--a buck was valued at one
dollar. A copy of the following certificate, recorded in Colonel Morgan's
journal, among several others of the same tenor, is worth preserving:
"I do certify, that i am indebted to the beared, Captian Johnny, seven
bucks and
one doe, for the use of the states, this 19th April, 1779. Signed,  Samuel
Sample, assistant quartermaster. The above is due to him for pork, for the use
of the garrison at Fort Laurens.
(signed) John Gibson, Colonel"
Colonel Gibson was the commander of this post. These certificates were
at fort Pitt, by the Indian agent, or the commandant of the place.

1841 Cincinnati in 1841: Its Early Annals and Future Prospects By Charles Cist
(Cincinnati) p.215 :

They had sold the Indians whiskey that had frozen in the cask, before they
reached their camp ; they made an Indian pay for a rifle gun thirty, the
Indians say forty, buck-skins, which they value at one dollar each, besides a
horse of fifteen pounds price.

Quoting Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>:

> Thanks for posting these, Steve. The sugg. that "buck" = "buckskin" =
> "dollar" is well known and may really be correct. This evidence goes
> some way toward establishing it.
>  The missing link, IMO, is evidence that the equivalence of buck
> hides and dollar value was widely known in pop culture. That would
> effectively clinch the issue.
>  Earlier exx. of "buckskin" or "buck hide" in the slang sense of a
> "dollar" would also be valuable.
>  JL
> Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU> wrote:
>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Stephen Goranson
> Subject: "buck" meaning dollar
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> OED buck n.8 "slang (org. and chiefly U.S.)" "Origin obscure" (1856)
> 1854 History of the State of Ohio: First Period, 1650-1787 By James Wickes
> Taylor (Cincinnati and Sandusky, 1854) p. 297:
> The English said we should buy everything of them, and since we had
> got saucy,
> we should give two bucks fot a blanket (superscript 3) which we used to
> get for
> one: we should do as they pleased, and they killed some of our people to make
> the rest fear them.
> (footnote 3) The skin of a buck was "legal tender," in the wilderness, for a
> dollar.
> 1851 Historical Collections of Ohio: Containing a Collection of the Most
> Interesting Facts,... (Cincinnati) By Henry Howe p.274:
> A muskrat skin wasequal to a quarter of a dollar; a racoon skin, a third of a
> dollar; a doe skin, half a dollar, and a buck skin, "the almighty dollar."
> 1824 Sketches of the History, Manners, and Customs of the North
> American Indians
> By James Buchanan p. 204:
> each buck-skin, one dollar
> Stephen Goranson
> http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
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