The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 12, No. 2 Fall 1985
Linda H. Kistler, Editor UNIVERSITY OF LOWELL
Frederic William Cronhelm, Double Entry by Single (London: Long-man, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1818. Reprint edition, New York: Arno Press, 1978, p. xv, 377, $25.00).
Reviewed by Raymond T. Holmes, Jr.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Although today's accountant may feel somewhat overwhelmed by the volume of new pronouncements and regulations from the FASB, the AICPA, the SEC and other policy setting bodies, in fact business practices and accounting for business activities change very slowly. There have been few radical advances in procedures, and the double-entry system continues to govern accounting con-cepts. Recognition of the slowly evolving nature of accounting is confirmed by Frederic William Cronhelm's Double Entry by Single; however, somewhat in contradiction to the above statement, the ac-cumulation of small changes over an extended period of time results in the 1985 product being barely recognizable as embody-ing the same basic concepts that controlled 1818 record-keeping.
It may be appropriate to compare the evolution of accounting methods to a 3 per cent inflation rate, with similar effect. The rate of change may seem modest or slow, but just as compounding $1 at 3 per cent for 166 years will produce a total of $135.20, the accumulation of changes in accounting methods produces a vastly different product in 1985 than existed in the early industrial era.
Cronhelm's book was published to promote a bookkeeping sys-tem devised by the author to shorten the "Italian method," in com-mon use at that time. In justifying his own method the author de-scribes very briefly then prevailing procedures. The book was obviously written for the accountant of 1818, and the author as-sumes the reader is familiar with the system in wide-spread use at that time. His explanations, therefore, are not sufficient to make