Barter (from Fr. barater, to truck, to exchange), the exchange of commodities for commodities, in contra-distinction to the exchange of commodities for money. Barter was the simplest form of trading among primitive communities, but its inconveniences led, at an early stage of civilization, to the adoption of metals as mediums of exchange. Barter, however, is still very common in dealings with uncivilized peoples, and traders in many countries find that the most satisfactory method of effecting exchange is to furnish themselves with such commodities as weapons, tools and ornaments, which are more readily taken than money.
For the history of barter and the steps by which a system of currency was gradually evolved, see Money. Consult also W. S. Jevons, Money and the Mechanism of Exchange; A. Marshall, Economics; W. Ridgeway, Origin of Currency and Weight Standards.