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The first printed historical treatise on accounting, which is one of the rarest and earliest of business books, has been donated to the Business Historical Society, it was announced yesterday. This book, the "Summa de Arithmetica" by Fra Lucas Pacioli, was published in Venice in 1494. The volume is regarded as one of the greatest prizes a business library can possess.

Technically known as an "incunabula", the accounting book is an excellent example of the Renaissance printer's skill. After 420 years of use and exposure to various climates, the pages are still unharmed and the ink, made of a vegetable dye preparation, is as black and fresh as when it was first produced. The paper in the book was handmade from old cloth, and the printing was accomplished with a hand press.

Information From Greek Slaves

Fra Lucas Pacioli took a great deal of the accounting information contained in his book from the educated Greek slaves who did the mathematical work of Italy during the Roman era. He makes no pretense of denying the source of his information, but assorts his statistics for carrying on business from the various systems accessible to him. The astounding part of his work is that it contains the essense of the accounting system as it is used today. Many methods have not changed at all since business first came to be recognized as a form of activity best carried on by definite rules.

Only Two Counterparts

The volume owned by the Business Historical Society has only two other known counterparts that were published and bound at the same time. There are several known copies of the volume owned by private collectors, but these were issued later than 1494.

The rare volume will be stored in the Baker. Memorial Library of the Business School with the rest of the Historical Society's colections, and will be open to reference for students of early business methods.

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