ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Renaissance accounting tome to go on sale for £1m

Luca Pacioli’s Summa de arithmetica, a rare 15th century printed book explaining the principles of accountancy, will go on sale at Christie’s New York in the summer

The tome, printed in Venice in 1494, was written by the Franciscan friar, mathematician, and friend of artist Leonardo da Vinci, and contains the first published description of double-entry bookkeeping.

The book will be toured in London between the 21 and 27 February and will go on sale in in the New York branch of the auction house for an estimated $1m to $1.5m (£0.7m to £1.2m) on 12 June.

Alice Laird, ICAEW cataloguing taxonomy manager, said that Pacioli’s description of double-entry bookkeeping is “critical in the development of the accounting profession as we know it today”.

“It is very rare for these editions, of which ICAEW has two copies, to come up for auction and the expected guide price reflects their global significance,” she added.

The text, which includes mathematics and computing, is also seen of as a practical guide on how to succeed in business.

Pacioli included all of the mathematical knowledge available at the time, a period in which European thinkers adopted and synthesised Hindu-Arabic mathematics with rediscovered ancient Greek concepts.

The mathematician was known to have collaborated with artist and inventor da Vinci and the two worked together on mathematics and perspective during the five years they spent living together in Milan.

Originally published in Economia on 15 February 2019.