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Historical accounting literature

The ICAEW has been collecting early works on accountancy for over 100 years and we have one of the finest collections in the world, running from the 15th century to early 20th century.

The earliest record of the collection in the library was in 1893 when Francis Pixley, then Chairman of the Library Committee, appealed to members of the Institute for help in acquiring historical works for the Library. Good response to his appeal and systematic collecting by successive librarians brought the collection to a present strength of about 3,000 volumes.

Around 1,500 volumes in the collection came from the library of Dr Kheil of Prague, purchased from his widow in 1913. A keen historian of book-keeping, Dr Kheil inherited a large part of his magnificent book-keeping collection from his father and added to it continuously until his death in 1908. The collection was further augmented by the acquisition in 1958 of the library of the Society of Incorporated Accountants, which included a number of early works.

The collection includes a copy of the earliest known book about double-entry book-keeping, ‘Summa de arithmetica’ by Pacioli (1494) and the earliest extant original work on accounting in the English language, ‘The maner and fourme how to keep a perfecte reconying…’ by Peele (1553).


A catalogue of our rare book collection was published by Mansell in 1975, with a supplement updating the list to 31 August 1975. We maintain an index that lists these titles and later additions, which we can check on behalf of users. Copies of the catalogue are available to view in the library and can also be purchased from us.


Enquiries about the collection, including requests from researchers wishing to use books held in the collection, should be addressed to the Head of the Library & Information Service.

Contact the enquiry team by phone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620, by fax on +44 (0)20 7920 8621 or by email at library@icaew.com.

Or write to:

Library & Information Service
Chartered Accountants' Hall
PO Box 433
Moorgate Place
London EC2P 2BJ

Further resources

We also provide a wide range of online resources focused on the history of the accounting profession, including material on family history.