One of the earliest references of this was in 1748, about 44 years
before the first U.S. dollar was minted, where there is a reference to
the exchange rate for a cask of whiskey traded to Native Americans being
“5 bucks,” referring to deerskins.
In yet another documented reference from 1748, Conrad Weiser, while
traveling through present day Ohio, noted in his journal that someone
had been “robbed of the value of 300 Bucks.”
At this time, a buck skin was a common medium of exchange. There is
also evidence that a “buck” didn’t simply mean one deerskin, but may
have meant multiple skins, depending on quality. For instance, skins
from deer killed in the winter were considered superior to those killed
in the summer, due to the fur being thicker.
It is thought that the highest quality skins were generally assigned a
one to one value with one skin equaling one buck. In contrast, for
lower quality skins, it might take several of them to be valued at a
single buck. The specific value for given sets of skins was then set at