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500 years of dollar history

Tolar (German: Thaler) is the Czech name for the silver coin mined in Kingdom of Bohemia in the 16th century in Jáchymov (German: Joachimsthal). The modern word dollar was derived from the Spanish dollar, so-called in the English-speaking world because they were of similar size and weight to the German Thalers. The German Thalers were so named because they were first minted from a silver mine in 1520 in Joachimsthal. It was the main currency in Bohemia from 1520 to 1750.


Joachimsthaller 1520

The mintange of coins for the Schliks family was officially authorized by the Czech Landtag by its decision of January 9, 1520.  It allowed them to mint "larger groschen in the value of Rhine gold, their halves and quarters". The coins were minted in the Jáchymov royal mints. In addition to ordinary tolars, a quarter or a half tolar coin was minted, but only exceptionally. In 1520, two-, three- and four-tolar coins were rarely minted.

From 1526, the Jáchymov tolars were minted in another mint, which was probably located in Horní Slavkov. It can be estimated that a total of about 1.3 million Jáchymov tolars were minted. The mintage was stopped in the spring of 1528 by order of Emperor Ferdinand I.


Tolar of Empress Maria Theresa, a most liked silver coin of all times

The thaler silver coin type continued to be minted as legal tender of modern currencies, such as the US silver dollar (until 1935) and the Swiss 5 francs coin (until 1928). Copies of the (Austrian) Maria Theresia thaler were made by various government mints until the 1960s. Many government mints continue to issue thaler sized silver coins with face values in national currency, now known as bullion coins, as their silver value significantly exceeds the face value.

The English form of the name, dollar, survives as the name of a number of modern currencies. Also from the name of the thaler is the Samoan currency name tālā and (until 2007) the Slovenian tolar.


US dollar from 1804



Jáchymov, town hall with prison (demolished today)

At the beginning of the 16th century, silver was found in the area of Joachimsthal. The village of Joachimsthal was founded in 1516 in place of the former abandoned village of Konradsgrun in order to facilitate the exploitation of this valuable resource. Stefan Schlick was the founder of Jáchymov. The silver caused the population to grow rapidly, and made the counts Schlick, whose possessions included the town, one of the richest noble Czech families.

The Schlicks had coins minted, which were called Joachimsthalers. They gave their name to the Thaler and the dollar. The fame of Joachimsthal for its ore mining and smelting works attracted the scientific attention of the doctor Georg Bauer (better known by the Latin form of his name, Georgius Agricola) in the late 1520s, who based his pioneering metallurgical studies on his observations made here.

In 1523, the Protestant Reformation began. In the Schmalkaldic War (1546–47) Joachimsthal was occupied for a time by Saxon troops. When in 1621 the Counter-reformation and re-Catholicisation took effect in the town, many Protestant citizens and people from the mountains migrated to nearby Saxony.



Radium Palace at Jáchymov


In the town are some of the most unique spas in the world. Musculoskeletal system is treated here with radon water and direct irradiation. This treatment is suitable for vascular diseases. Furthermore, for the nerve, rheumatic diseases or inflammation of nerves. The most important use is the treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system (gout etc.). The spa was founded in 1906. Initially, the water was used for drinking cures, later baths began to be used.