Blue plaque for man who designed dollar symbol

The only known depiction of Oliver Pollock is this sculpture in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by Frank Hayden
The only known depiction of Oliver Pollock is this sculpture in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by Frank Hayden

The man who is credited with designing the US dollar sign will be commemorated with an Ulster History Circle blue plaque near Strabane.

The Ulster History Circle is erecting a famous blue plaque in honour of the merchant and patriot Oliver Pollock in the Tyrone village of Bready.

Chris Spurr, chairman of the Ulster History Circle

Chris Spurr, chairman of the Ulster History Circle

The honour of unveiling the historic sign will be given to the US Consul-General to Northern Ireland, Daniel J Lawton, at the Sollus Centre at 1.45pm on Thursday.

Chris Spurr, chairman of the Ulster History Circle, noted that Pollock had been given the honour of the organisation’s 200th plaque.

“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 big cities,” he said.

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

Pollock was one of the most successful 18th century Ulster emigrants from Ulster.

It has also been claimed that he has family connections to Coleraine and Leckpatrick.

The Ulster-Scot emigrated to America in 1760, at the age of 23, where he became one of the wealthiest merchants in the country, bought large areas of land and became very politically influential.

It is believed he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to finance the American revolutionaries in their war against the English.

However, he borrowed so heavily to support them that he ended up in debt and was imprisoned for a time in Havana, Cuba.

Pollock is often credited with having invented the American dollar symbol - $ - even if it was accidental.

When dealing with the Spanish in New Orleans and the West Indies, he used an abbreviation for the peso (a currency used by the Spanish) which looked like a combination of the P and S.

This was copied by those he did business with and when the dollar was adopted as the currency of the US it became recognised as its symbol in 1778.

Pollock died in 1823.

His grandfather–James Wilson–emigrated from the Co Tyrone townland of Dergalt in 1807. The Wilson ancestral homestead can still be visited today.

There is no known image of Oliver Pollock.

The picture used on the invitation to the unveiling is of a sculpture of Pollock in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by artist Frank Hayden.

Another famous Ulsterman who lived near Pollock was John Dunlap (1747 – 1812) from Strabane.

He was the printer of the first copies of the United States Declaration of Independence and one of the most successful American printers of his era.