“Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar, all for our team, stand up and holler.” Remember that catchy cheer from your junior high football days? Ever wondered what it meant? How about the phrase “a little bit?” Both refer to a form of money used in the 19th century.
Bartering was a commonly accepted way of exchanging goods and services in the West for many decades. Trappers swapped pelts for necessities like tobacco, clothing, ammunition, and food. Indians traded for anything from jewelry and cooking pots to slaves and horses. Early settlers often had little cash and also bartered for food, clothing, and goods. Two of the most traded items in the West were eggs and milk.
Handling money must have been a headache for early 19th century businessmen. Coins in circulation throughout the
The silver dollar, known as the trade dollar, was also widely used. “In God We Trust” was added in 1872. The “slug,” a $50 gold piece, was used mainly in
Needless to say, there were countless other coins and paper money printed, but hopefully, this will give you a basic understanding of money used in the Old West.
(Information was obtained from The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West and The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s)