Great Circus Adventures in Accounting (2009)

The turn of the century brought a new openness to, and maybe even nostalgia and yearning for, accounting adventure, symbolized by the publication of a jaunty paper. “Juggling the Books: The Use of Accounting Information in Circus in Australia,” Lorne Cummings and Mark Valentine St. Leon, Accounting History, vol. 14, nos. 1–2, 2009, pp. 11–33 ( DOI: .1177/

(Thanks to Martin Gardiner for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, respectively at Macquarie University, report:

This article outlines the role of accounting information in circus in Australia in the approximate period 1847–1963. Responding to the call for an increased historical narrative in accounting, we have studied the literature, documentation and personal memoirs concerning circus in Australia…. We have established that, despite elementary levels of education, many circus people exhibited an intuitive grasp of fundamental accounting principles, albeit in a rudimentary form. Nevertheless, since financial and management reporting practises were typically
unsystematic, and even non-existent, in all but the largest circus enterprises, Australian circus
management may not have been optimized.

(That’s an excerpt from the article “Financial Meltdown,” Published in AIR 15:3.)