George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years

First published account of double-entry book-keeping: acquired in 1983

A friend of Leonardo da Vinci wrote a mathematical work that is of particular interest to mathematics and accounting historians.

Renaissance scholar Luca Pacioli wrote one of the earliest general treatises on mathematics to have been printed. Entitled 'Summa de arithmethica geometria proportioni et proportionalità', it was published in Venice in 1494.

It is also the first printed explanation of double-entry book-keeping. This involves entering every transaction as a debit in one account and a corresponding credit in another account, and then checking that the accounts 'balance'.

Apparently Pacioli was not introducing something new, but describing the system already practised in Venice. His description was widely influential, however, and many later records of the 'Venetian' or 'Italian' method stem from it.

The item forms part of the Antiquarian Collection of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. Consisting of over 1,000 books, the collection was deposited on long-term loan in the National Library of Scotland in 1983.

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