The taler was once the most important world currency. The word dollar is derived from taler.

The first taler was a silver coin, minted around 1520 during the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The taler was worth 72 Kreuzer, which itself was a 60th of a gulden. The taler was the offical currency of the empire from 1566 to about 1750, when the it was replaced by the gulden. Prussia and the northern German states also had a taler currency, although it was usually spelt thaler; the thaler was subdivided into 30 groschen. The term taler was commonly used to refer to German 3 mark coins until the coins were discontinued around WWI.

The most famous talers were those struck during the reign of Maria Theresa, and especially those of 1780, the year of her death. These, sometimes called Levantine Talers, were widely used all over the world. In fact, they were so common in Arabia, they were the primary currency for a time. They were minted for Arab countries up until 1924 and for some African countries until 1935. Djibouti took the last Maria Theresa talers out of circulation in 1943.