Up to the close of the eighth century the policy of the Government in China was regulated by the principle that coinage was for the convenience of trade and, incidentally, one of the means of enriching the nation. As I have pointed out above, gold and silver were used as commodity money almost all through this period; no efforts were, however, made to coin these precious metals. On the other hand copper was coined extensively and frequently, in several denominations. It must, however, be borne in mind, in order to have a correct perspective of currency conditions in this country that the use of coins for whatever purpose [was extremely limited. The idea of obtaining profit out of coinage never entered the minds of the government in ancient China or, for the matter of that, in any other part of the world. The reason is obvious. Profit from coinage arises when the Government legislates for use of token coins and the people accept them, i.e., coins that have a much larger value in trade and other daily transactions than what they are intrinsically worth. As the government in China used only copper money it was rather hard to make any profit out of such issues, nor did it attempt to make any. During this period the revenues of the government were always collected in copper coins, in the agricultural produce of the land, besides silk.
Bartering was still practically the only method of exchange, as it continued to be for centuries afterwards.