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This week in Mailbox we reveal the correct answer to our monthly competition about the origin of the dollar and we announce the names of the four lucky winners.

Welcome to Mailbox. Last week's edition was dedicated to Radio Prague's annual competition and that's why our monthly contest had to wait for another week. But today we are going to reveal the correct answer and announce the names of the four lucky winners which we drew out of the hat.

In June we asked you to find the connection between the dollar, a currency used in two dozen countries of the world, and the Czech Republic. Most of the answers were correct as usual so let's hear some of the quotes.

Romy Hoffmann listens to Radio Prague in Freiburg, Germany.

"The currency name 'dollar' comes from the old currency 'Taler/ Thaler', which was the official currency in the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations from the middle of the 16th century until around 1750... As people discovered the great silver depots in the town Joachimsthal (or Jáchymov) in the Czech Lands, most of the Talers were made in Joachimsthal, so it became known as the "Joachimsthaler" and later on only "Taler". The Taler got spread all over Europe in many variants: Kronentaler in the Austrian Netherlands or Maria-Theresien-Thaler in Austria. Until the middle of the 20th century it even was a trade currency in Ethiopia and the Arab lands. So the American word dollar derives from the word Taler. And this Taler started its "career" in the Czech lands, which is part of today's Czech Republic."

Louisa (Silhavy) Bunce is from Cary in North Carolina:

"My grandfather was born in Novy Jachymov in 1866 and I am aware that silver was found there in the early 16th century. Jachymov, formerly Joachimsthal, was owned by the von Schlick family. They minted the Joachimsthaler, giving the name to the thaler, hence, the dollar. I so enjoy the familiarity of radio.cz and the wonders of Prague and the Czech Republic."

Harry T. Klugel from the US sent us this answer:

Jachymov's thaler, photo: Classical Numismatic Group, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
"Geographic indicators are often used to identify origins of words. A Czech town Sankt Joachimstal, now called Jachymov, had silver mines. During the Holy Roman Empire, these mines provided "thalers". These were coins of silver. The word "thaler" has evolved into the more modern word "dollar". Jachymov is in Bohemia. So the dollar originated in Czech Republic!"

Radiant Didla listens to us in Lithuania:

"There is a major connection between the 'dollar' and the Czech Republic. The history of the dollar is a story involving many countries in different continents. The word 'dollar' is much older than the American unit of currency. It is an Anglicised form of 'thaler', the name given to coins first minted in 1519 from locally mined silver in Joachimsthal (now Jachymov) in Bohemia. Thaler is the shortened form of the term by which the coin was originally known - Joachimsthaler. So may be we can say that the 'dollars' started in Czech Republic almost 500 years ago."

Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark sent us the correct answer and added:

"The name is related to the Tolar in Bohemia, daalder in the Netherlands and daler in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. In my home country Denmark we do not have a daler for more than 130 years, but among people the 2 Kr coin is still called a daler."

Mike Talbot from the Isle of Man had this to say:

Jachymov, photo: Krokodyl, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
"Whilst the American colonies were still under British rule the English pounds, shillings and pence coinage were in short supply. The Spanish peso together with the Portuguese real-eight piece were readily available and became accepted as legal tender, they became known as thalers. Both coins were almost identical in weight and quality to the thaler. The Scandinavian countries, together with the Netherlands also used coins identical in weight and size as the Czech thaler, but known as dalers. New York was initially settled by Dutch and called New Amsterdam, their currency was dalers. The thaler name in time became corrupted to Dollar and it stayed that way. In 1792, the newly Independent United States of America opted to abandon the English Pound and adopted the dollar as its official currency. The Spanish peso or thaler continued to be legal currency until 1857, by which time the USA Government had acquired enough silver and gold to produce their own currency."

Colin Law from New Zealand added a footnote:

"By the middle of the 16th century silver mining had almost ceased in Sankt Joachimsthal because the value of the metal dropped with the discovery of silver in the New World. However, the mines had always contained a shiny black mineral nicknamed pechblende (pitchblende), from which scientists eventually extracted a new element named uranium. But that's another story."

And David Eldridge from England added a similar note:

"The mines of Jáchymov also have another claim to fame since it was with ore from those mines that Marie Curie first managed to separate radium and polonium the first discovered radioactive elements."

Mary Lou Krenek from Texas, U.S.A had a chance to visit the mines in Jachymov.

"This is one piece of trivia that did not come as a surprise to me. I remembered the trip to the town of the silver mine in the 1990s. They have some of the first thaler coins on display in the museum. The professors from Charles University [who took us there] are quite brilliant in planning the field trips to places such as Jachymov in order for the students to experience another great contribution of the Czech Republic to the civilization of mankind. The history of the dollar is quite an interesting story."

And Mary Lou Krenek is also the winner of our main prize this month, the other three lucky ones are Radiant Didla, Mike Talbot and Romy Hoffmann. Congratulations and your prizes are on their way.


And those of you who haven't been lucky this time can try again.

"If you follow Radio Prague regularly, you will find this question quite easy. We would like you to tell us the name of a Czech-born American anthropologist who was one of the first scientists to pronounce a theory that all humans are the descendants of one common ancestor."

You have until the end of the month to send us your answers to Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic or much quicker to english@radio.cz.