The market for Luca Pacioli’s Summa Arithmetica

Alan Sangster, Gregory N. Stoner, Patricia McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


This paper looks at an aspect of Luca Pacioli and his Summa Arithmetica that has not previously been explored in detail – the market for which he wrote the book. In order to do so, it follows a path identified by two clues in the bookkeeping treatise as to the nature of this market that modern eyes, unaware of how life was in late 15th century Italy, have missed. After discussing the curriculum taught in schools at that time, this paper considers a range of possible markets for which the book may have been written. The paper concludes that it was written primarily for, and sold mainly to, merchants who used the book as a reference text, as a source of pleasure from the mathematical puzzles it contained, and as an aid for the education of their sons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-134
Number of pages24
JournalAccounting Historians Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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