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A crucial development in the history of money was the promissory note
. The process began when individuals began leaving their excess gold with goldsmiths, who would look after it for them. In turn the goldsmiths would give the depositors a receipt, stating how much gold they had deposited. Eventually these receipts were traded directly for goods and services, rather than there being a physical transfer of gold from the goods buyer to the goods seller. Of course, both the buyer and seller had to trust the goldsmith because the goldsmith had all the gold and the goldsmith’s customers had only pieces of paper. These depository receipts represented a promise to pay a certain amount of gold on demand. This paper money therefore became a proxy for the precious metals on which they were based, that is, they were directly related to a physical commodity. Many of these early goldsmiths evolved into banks, taking in excess wealth and in turn issuing promissory notes that could be used in commerce.