I'll give you a clue:
2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits, a dollar!
Its a bit like two-bob, a nugget, etc.
2 bits is 25 cents - 1/4 dollar U.S.
The origin is the same as "pieces of eight" where coins were often cut into 8 pieces to "make change."
Therefore 2 bits - two pieces - would be one-quarter of a dollar coin.
As was related to me, and this may be apocryphal, the old Spanish silver peso was divided into eight reals. You may recall the phrase "pieces of eight" from old pirate stories in reference to the same. The coin was scored and could be broken literally into two, four, or eight smaller pieces.
Foreign coins being sanctioned currency for some time-- the U.S. did not unify its currency until the 1840s, and not till well after in the Wild West-- frontier Americans came to use "two bits" as slang for "one fourth," and so two bits is 25 cents, four bits is 50 cents, etc.
I get it, but doesn't that mean that 1 bit is 12.5 cents. Never seen a half a cent. Does that exist?
Excuse me, an Irish guy living in Thailand, but some questions have to be asked.
Wello heck, my mom used to say "6 and two three's" when it all went to pot.....
It didn't matter that 1 bit was 12.5 cents - sometimes chopping up a coin was the only choice. So they didn't think about the fine details - just what was possible with the technology (an axe or hatchet) and the coins at hand.
But, taking your idea into account, you won't hear John Wayne mention "one bit" in a monetary context. One bit applied to what he put in his horse's mouth, or how much he didn't care for something. :)
The tradition of cutting coins dates back almost as far as that of coins themselves - The non-circular shape of some coins and the serrations on the edges of others is intended to stop people from slicing around the rim to remove a small quantity of silver or gold, thus devaluing the coin.
As usual great answer Jim.
I can't recall hearing 'one bit' it just stood to reason that if there were two bits there had to be one as well.
I've learned something today. Night night.
|Never seen a half a cent. Does that exist? |
The U.S. minted a half cent coin until the mid 1800's.
I'm still waiting for the 9/10th cent coin so I can pay for 1 gallon of gasoline.
*sob* at the price of petrol in the UK