An Accounting Thesaurus

500 years of accounting

Edited by

  • Richard Chambers, Landmark Graphics Corporation, Houston TX, USA

A compilation drawn from over 500 years of English language accounting literature reflecting a lifetime of scholarly enquiry, this book comprises over 5000 quotations of between 1-20 lines in length. The book aims to give an historical perspective as well as an up-to-date overview of what accounting and accountants were, are and do, and is intended both as a reference book and a research tool. Its range extends from general interest to the advanced, covering rules, practices and standards, professional and academic opinions, and the social and logical foundations of accounting; it also draws on the work of scholars in other fields that have some bearing on accounting work and thought.
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For professional and university libraries; academics and researchers in accounting; essay writing students of accounting at a higher level.


Book information

  • Published: December 1995
  • Imprint: PERGAMON
  • ISBN: 978-0-08-042573-3


An informative cornucopia of quotations, ranging from the pontifical and prosaic to the provocative, perceptive and profound, nicely leavened with touches of humour.
Basil Yamey, The London School of Economics and Political Science., 1995

Never before have we had available to us, a comprehensive array of opinions, facts, arguments and dicta spanning, in effect, the whole financial accounting world from Pacioli to the present day. Casual readers or serious researchers who want to see how ideas changed, when new ideas emerged or old ideas died will find Chambers' Thesaurus invaluable, entertaining and instructive. I know of no other work like it in scope or coverage. It is also remarkably "user friendly". Anyone who is interested in the history of ideas, in the use of language, in the traditions of accounting will find in this remarkable work a wealth of material and a veritable treasure trove of quotable quotes.
Murray Wells, Graduate School of Business, The University of Sydney., 1995
This reference book is a labour of love; it could not be otherwise. Usually such a voluminous work is the result of joint endeavour, but this accounting companion is the product of one scholar's dedicated meticulousness in surveying 500 years of accounting and related literature. Students of accounting will find here a rich store of definitions which can be borrowed elegance to their presentations, elaborate some point or support a favoured view. It is most certainly comprehensive in its coverage, ranging from accounting in general, its economic background, psychological aspects, valuation of assets and equities, income and the complexitites of measurement, accounting systems, and accounting beliefs and knowledge. Here is a myriad of alternative lenses through which to view concepts, mechanism or ideas. Undoubtedly it will prove invaluable to any student of accounting, or related professions, since they will find within it ready access to the accumulated elegance and interpretations of several centuries of scholarly study. But like most companion volumes this is also a splendid work simply to browse through, where the humorous finds a place alongside the profound. There is a detailed source index, itself a revealing glimpse of the literature of accounting, together with a subject index.

Other scholars may have set out to produce such a grand and capacious work but have despaired of the magnitude of the task or been overtaken by mortality. One R. Bithell, writing in 1903, identified the three services which contribute to the cost of a product as 'labour, endurance and abstinence'; judging by this endeavour the greatest of these three is probably endurance. To recognise the scholarly dedication of the compiler, and enrich their collection, every library reference section should hold a copy.
W.A. Thomas, University of Liverpool, Business History, 1997, 1995

Table of Contents

Preface. Introduction. Abbreviations. Outline. Accounting in General. The Economic Background of Accounting. The Psychological and Social Background of Accounting. General Characteristics of Accounting. Financial Position and its Elements. Dated Valuation of Assets and Equities. Income and Income Calculation. Accounting Systems. Systematic Inquiry and Knowledge. Accounting Beliefs and Knowledge. Source Index. Subject Index.