The ICAEW collection of Historical Accounting Literature
ICAEW has been collecting early works on accountancy for over 100 years and has one of the finest collections in the world, spanning the 15th century to the early 20th century. The 3,000 volumes in the collection span twenty languages.
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). The oldest book in the collection is Questo e el libro che tracta di mercatantie et usanze de paesi (1481) which was a key source for Pacioli when he was writing his Summa de arithmetica.
There are many unusual items in the collection, but perhaps the most unusual is a ritually singed Jewish document that was used as a temporary cover for one of the two copies of Summa de arithmetica held by ICAEW. The document, known as the Melekh Manuscript, was displayed in the library for many years and has also been exhibited at the Jewish Museum. It is not on display at present.
Access to the collection
The ICAEW collection of Historical Accounting Literature is held at Chartered Accountants' Hall and you can see a full list of the titles held through our online catalogue of rare books. The online catalogue covers all the items included in the print edition/supplement published by Mansell in 1975 and all titles purchased by ICAEW from 1975 to date.
Enquiries about the collection, including requests from researchers wishing to use books held in the collection, should be addressed to the library by phone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or write to:
Library & Information Service
Chartered Accountants' Hall
11 Copthall Avenue
London EC2R 7EF
Facsimiles for sale
The ICAEW Library & Information Service is offering for sale some spare individual titles from the set of Historic Accounting Literature facsimiles published between 1978 and 1980 by Scolar Press. Find out more about the facsimiles.