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Highlights of the collection

ICAEW has been collecting early works on accountancy for over 100 years and we now have one of the finest collections in the world, with around 3,000 volumes running from the 15th century to early 20th century. On this page you can find out about some of the highlights of the collection and their authors.

Summa de arithmetica

Luca Pacioli 1494

This title is the first great work on mathematics to be printed and includes treatises on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, foreign exchange calculations and double-entry bookkeeping - the "Methods of Venice" . It is this last section that eventually, about a hundred years ago; led to its writer becoming well known for having set down the system of accounting which remains in use today.

Divina proportione

Luca Pacioli 1509

Fifteen years after Luca Pacioli wrote the first published exposition of double-entry book-keeping as part of his celebrated work on mathematics, the Summa of 1494, he published another equally celebrated work, his De Divina Proportione, in Venice. The Divina Proportione, which deals with what may be called the mathematics of beauty, is in itself a work of beauty.

Nieuwe instructie

Jan Ympyn Christoffels 1543

Jan Ympyn Christoffels' Nieuwe Instructie (translated into English in 1547 as 'A Notable and Very Excellente Worke') was the first work in Dutch on double-entry bookkeeping and was widely translated.

A notable and very excellente woorke...

Jan Ympyn Christoffels 1547

A facsimile of the earliest book printed in English on double-entry bookkeeping which has survived. Translated by Ympyn from Italian into Dutch, from Dutch into French, and finally from French into English, it originates from an Italian manuscript by one Giovanni Paolo di Bianchi.

Zwifach buchhalten

Wolffgang Schweicker 1549

This work is a translation of Manzoni's "Quaderno Doppio" from Wolfgang Schweicker, the earliest German author to follow the 'methods of Venice' of Pacioli and Manzoni.

The maner and fourme how to kepe a perfecte reconyng

James Peele 1553

James Peele, Citizen and Salter of London, clerk to Christ’s Hospital 1562 to 1585, was the author of the second English work on double-entry bookkeeping to have survived. It was republished in a much enlarged and improved form in 1569.

A briefe instruction...

Hugh Oldcastle, John Mellis 1588

Schoolmaster and teacher of arithmetic in the parish of St Olave's, Southwark, John Mellis claims to have 'enlarged and beautified' Oldcastle's original work of 1543. The examples he added at the end show instances of following Ympyn and Peele rather than Oldcastle and illustrations with the text are also obviously Mellis's work. The overall impression is however that Oldcastle's lost work is fairly faithfully reproduced.

A Short Treatise touching sheriffs accompts

Matthew Hale 1683

This is a long sought first edition and one of the later additions to the collection (a 1716 edition had been purchased for the collection between 1903 and 1913). The accounting section of this work made little impression but the irrelevant part of the book on the trial of witches makes it rather fascinating.

Historical Accounting Literature

The ICAEW collection of historical accounting literature currently comprises around 3,000 volumes and includes works published from the 15th century to the early 20th century. The collection includes books and journals in a variety of languages.

Find out more about the collection and its history.