Richard H. Homburger
PROFESSOR OF ACCOUNTING WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY
Gary John Previts
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ACCOUNTING THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA
THE RELEVANCE OF "ZWEI PFADFINDER"
While double-entry as a method was rather fully developed at the time of Luca Paciolo (1494) its underlying concepts were less well understood and explained for some time. Early teachers were more concerned with the mechanics of debits and credits than with the underlying theory of accounts which could explain the economic rationale of the system. Even after such a theory had begun to develop, it was concerned more with the nature and meaning of individual accounts and their classification than with the overall significance and meaning of financial reports which could be drawn therefrom. Until the last century, therefore, a theory of valuation which must essentially rest upon an established theory of accounts, could not be adequately developed. All of this suggests the im-portance of establishing an understanding as to when and how a theory of accounts emerged.
The article by Hatfield deals with one rather peculiar phase in the development of the theory of accounts, namely the "Zweikon-ten-Theorie" or theory of two account series which was prominent in Germany and Switzerland in the middle and later part of the nineteenth century. This theory was spearheaded by Augspurg and Kurtzbauer and, around the turn of the century more fully developed by Hugli and Schar. It is Hatfield's contention that two American writers, Thomas Jones and B. F. Foster preceded Augspurg and Kurzbauer in the discovery of this theory of accounts.
The substance of this theory is the classification of all accounts into two main categories: on one hand, those representing the sub-stance of the business investment (Vermoegens-Bestandteile)—such as the various asset and liability accounts; on the other hand, those