The modus operandi of the Shansi banks is very interesting and deserves a detailed description, especially as it was far in advance of the methods employed in Europe, even as late as the seventeenth century. Writers on Chinese currency have one and all ignored the part played by the Shansi bank in the history of the currency of this country. It is not generally understood that while the large and frequent issues of paper money helped to maintain the business of these banks, such issues of paper money would have been impossible but for the existence and business of these banks. The Shansi banks were the first to introduce the system of drafts and discounts, as it is known to-day. They taught the world the possibility of dispatching money from one part of the country to another and even from one country to another without actual dispatch of specie. They introduced the system of cheques - not the modern cheques of course, but a paper which dispensed with the need of a traveller carrying silver with him, the paper in his hand having purchasing power in every city on the way. At first they were quasi-Government institutions. It is notorious that at no stage in the history of this country and under no dynasty has the Government had reputation for financial probity. The Government was always anxious to have the support of banks and merchants, whenever the occasion demanded; as a matter of fact the administrations would have been bankrupt on many an occasion, but for the financial help rendered by the merchants. When early in the career of the Shansi merchants, the Government found that they were men with means it lost no time in adopting means to ultilize their services. As early as the eleventh century the Shansi banks, for all practical purposes, corresponded to state banks - although both in the capital and in the provinces there were treasuries, which were on most occasions completely empty of any vestige of funds. But while Shansi bankers helped the Government, very often, the Government also helped these banks in several ways. With the prestige of Government support these bankers spread, and had branches in every city of note in the kingdom. Whatever money was available was given to these banks at first; and as the large portion of the wealth of the Government under most of the reigns has been due to the issue of paper money, the services of the bank had inevitably to be requisitioned in order to put the paper money into circulation. It must be understood, of course, that they were not willing to be the obliging tools of the Government at all times; they frequently safeguarded themselves by getting hold of whatever bullion or specie was available, especially as they were able to do so, even better than the Government. Thus, although they were responsible for putting into circulation large amounts of paper they maintained their credit with the public, because they were able to control whatever silver or copper was available in the kingdom.