Last week we mentioned an article on the origin of the U.S. dollar sign. Dick Hanscom forwarded this June 6. 2019 BBC News article on the
origin of the Euro sign. Curiously, it did not include an image of the Euro sign, so I added one from Wikipedia. -Editor
As one of the world's newest currencies, the euro's decades-long gestation and protracted birth have been meticulously documented. It's a
story of meetings, negotiations, treaties and yet more meetings, its cast comprised almost exclusively of politicians and civil servants. The kind of
yarn, in other words, likely to set only the pulse of an economic historian racing. Altogether more mysterious – and contested – is how the euro
acquired the sign by which it's known around the world.
The new currency's name was chosen in Madrid in 1995. Allegedly the suggestion of a Belgian teacher and Esperanto buff, "euro" triumphed over a
string of other contenders, including the irresistibly Shakespearean "ducat". A crucial consideration was that the name must be the same in all of
Europe's official languages, and uniformity was deemed vital for the sign that would represent it too.
Unlike older currency signs that have evolved organically over centuries, the euro sign was designed by committee. The brief comprised three key
elements: it must be a highly recognisable symbol of Europe, it had to echo well-known existing currency symbols, and it needed to be aesthetically
pleasing and simple to write by hand. It fell to European Commission staff to compile a list of more than 30 possible designs. These were then
whittled down to 10 and submitted to the public. Two designs emerged ahead of the rest, and it was left to then President of the European Commission
Jacques Santer and Yves-Thibault de Silguy, the commissioner in charge of economic and financial affairs, to choose between them.
When the selected symbol was unveiled in December 1996, it was applauded by the now defunct newspaper The European as being "precise and
confident, like a post-modern pretzel". Elsewhere, it caused confusion. A ‘C' bisected by two horizontal bars? Well, no, it was actually inspired by
the Greek letter epsilon. A reference to the cradle of European civilisation, it emphasised historical continuity – as the design of the banknotes
themselves would do – while also evoking an ‘E' for Europe. The classical connection came to seem decidedly ironic when, in 2010, Greece's bailout
crisis threatened the stability of the entire eurozone. Just as well those two parallel lines running through its centre signify stability.
Curiously, it's now all but impossible to trace the symbol that was runner-up in the popularity contest. It must exist in a Brussels vault, but
search online and it's as if the euro symbol was ever-destined to take its current form.
So... does anyone know what the runner-up design was? -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
The painstaking story behind the euro symbol
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
CAJORI ON THE ORIGIN OF THE DOLLAR SIGN
LOOSE CHANGE: JUNE 2, 2019 : The Origin of the Dollar Symbol
Wayne Homren, Editor
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