$ £ ¥ €
Where do currency symbols come from?
Other monetary symbols have more obvious origins. The sign for the British pound, £, evolved from the Latin word libra, meaning scales, since the British pound was originally worth exactly one pound of pure silver. The Chinese yuán and the Japanese yen—both of which mean « round object » in their respective languages—use the symbol ¥, based on the letter Y as transliterated by international traders. As for the euro: After soliciting designs from about 30 teams of artists, the European Commission polled 2,000 members of the public on a shortlist of 10 finalists and ultimately selected the €. (A German named Arthur Eisenmenger thenclaimed he had designed the symbol decades earlier.)
Many countries don’t bother to create their own symbols, relying on simple abbreviations instead, like zł for the Polish złoty, or DM for the former German Deutsche Mark. Others combine a letter abbreviation with the dollar sign, such as the Nicaraguancórdoba (C$). The symbol for the Israeli « new shekel, » ₪, joins the first Hebrew letters of each word into one unit. It’s common for currency symbols to change over time. The Russian ruble, for example, was originally represented with the Cyrillic letter « Р » written horizontally over a vertical « У. » That later become a simple « R » or « руб. »
While each country has its own way of representing its currency, there is also a standard international system known as the ISO 4217, established in 1978 by theInternational Organization for Standardization. These codes are used for banking and business transactions around the world and look a lot like stock ticker symbols: JPY for Japanese yen, RUB for Russian rubles, and INR for Indian rupees. Even more abstract is each currency’s numeric code, which usually matches its country code as established by the ISO. The numeric code for the Saudi riyal, for example, is 682.
Source : Slate : http://www.slate.com/id/2260617/