The history of the Shansi banks, which continued to do business even as late as 1911, is almost a romance. These bankers made their fortunes in salt and iron, both of which valuable products were being exported from Shansi in unfailing abundance for more than 2,000 years - except, of course, during the past 100 years or so. There are evidences that the Shansi merchants traded with the Romans, as also merchants in other distant parts of the world. The traders from this province had perforce to travel to distant places in order to sell their goods; they became bankers by necessity - especially when their business increased largely. Let alone salt and iron, merchants from Shansi did also a roaring business in silk, even as early as the first century a.d. The early Shansi traders sent their goods to Chihli, Shantung, Honan and Shensi in the sixth century B.C., and paid duties either with the new cash that then came into use, or with gold or silver. But it was not till after 1,200 years from that date that the wealth of the Shansi merchants and the extending use of paper money led to their becoming the bankers of China. Their banks made it their principal business to convey money from one province to another for a 3 per cent, charge or even a smaller fee. In about 1,200 A.n. or 600 years after they became regular bankers, coal was also exported from Shansi. The profits from the sales of salt, iron and coal were considerable. With the accumulation of capital arising out of the large trade, the Shansi bankers were able to help not only the Government, but also traders in all cities.