The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 9, No. 1 Spring 1982
''THREEFOLD BOOKKEEPING" BY MATTHÄUS SCHWARZ
Abstract: In 1518, when nothing but Paciolo's "Summa" had been printed in the world of bookkeeping, Matthäus Schwarz, who was a bookkeeper of the Fuggers, wrote a manuscript on bookkeeping known as "Threefold Bookkeeping." This manu-script showed an illustration of three kinds of bookkeeping methods, of which the first and second methods aroused the most interest and research in ways of com-parison with one another. This paper will attempt to show how the first and second methods are an integrated part of and incorporated into the third method of "Threefold Bookkeeping" system as a whole; and to exemplify the superiority that "bookkeeping in practice" has to "bookkeeping in text."
The earliest text on bookkeeping, "Summa," was published in 1494 in Venice by Paciolo. Twenty-four years later in Vienna, Gram-mateus, second only to Paciolo, wrote a draft of a bookkeeping text which supposedly was not published until 1521 in Nuremberg.1
During the same year, 1518, Matthäus Schwarz,2 a bookkeeper of the Fuggers, completed his manuscript known as "Dreierlay Buch-haltung" (herein referred to as "Threefold Bookkeeping"). Until the completion of Schwarz's manuscript, Paciolo's text had been recog-nized throughout the world as the only printed book on bookkeep-ing.
There are several reasons why Schwarz's manuscript is now regarded as a valuable document written during the infancy of book-keeping texts. The fact that the manuscript was written nearly 464 years ago is only of secondary importance historically. Of primary importance is that Schwarz's manuscript gives clear examples of the character of practical bookkeeping during that period in com-parison with the methods of Paciolo and Grammateus, because it holds some characteristics of practical bookkeeping attained by a practitioner who had an advantage over scholars.
It is also noteworthy that the Fuggers, who employed Schwarz, had wielded such great economic powers that the period became known as the "Era of the Fuggers."3 This era still remains as a mile-