From the PREFACE.
It is not within the province of this treatise to teach the Art of Bookkeeping. Skill in that art is attained by practice, either in recording actual transactions in the counting room or those, simulating actuality, which are prepared for practice in the school or in the many excellent manuals of instruction. But facility in the processes of an establisht system will not satisfy the inquiring mind of one who has gone thus far; he will desire at a proper stage of his development to know the scientific basis of all systems, the wherefore as well as the how. When the subject is taken up at the collegiate or university stage, it is especially fitting that the science of accounts be unfolded concurrently with thoro drill in the art which depends' upon it.
As a branch of mathematical and classificatory science, the principles of accountancy may be determined by a priori reasoning, and do not depend upon the customs and traditions which surround the art. I have endeavored to set forth these principles simply and naturally without resorting to fictitious modes of presentation, but adhering to the fundamental equations and their sub-equations.
I hope that my work may be of some utility to the profession of public accountants in the training of their assistants, as, even in routine-matters, the best work is done by those who understand the theory and the reason of what they are doing. To business managers who have not been practical bookkeepers, it may be that I may throw some light on the methods in use and perhaps point out where they may be made more effectiv.
I had at one time intended to extend the book by adding to the twenty-one chapters here given relating to Accounts in General, a Part II on Accounts in Particular, in which should be taken up all the principal forms of account with various suggestions as to handling them. I found however that the task would reach encyclopedic proportions if I treated each type of account with the degree of thoroness which has been given to Cost Accounts by several authors and to Investment Accounts in my work on "The Accountancy of Investment." I have therefore contented myself with an Appendix, containing some Monographs on a few very essential accounts.
I am conscious that the work will deserve and receive severe scrutiny as it is the product of over thirty years' handling of accounts in all grades of service and of six years' teaching the subject in the School of Commerce, Finance and Accounts of New York University.
-Charles E. Sprague.show more