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The opinion generally prevails that a practical knowledge of Bookkeeping can be acquired only in the routine of business, a notion which has undoubtedly arisen from the manner of presenting the subject to the learner. To suppose that a knowledge of the arithmetical calculations of the counting-room cannot be acquired before entering it, or that geography can be learned only by travelling, is no less absurd.
The time required in learning this subject in real business, is usually long and tedious ; months and even years are sometimes spent before much general efficiency is acquired; and this is not surprising when we consider that the phraseology is not explained, and that the entries arise without classification, and since there are no principles stated to which references can be made, every step appears new and doubtful, and perhaps the learner sees the accounts closed only once a year. Thus groping along without initiatory training, the learner is often lost in the confusion of lines, entries, and transformations. It is believed that such experience is too dearly purchased.
The text books upon this subject are already numerous, but all the exercises which they contain are usually written up by the authors themselves, and the learner is required to copy. The arrangement is nearly the same as that which an arithmetic would present without definitions, rules, or explanations, but simply examples accompanied with the cyphering, which produces the result without references to stated principles.
In this treatise we have endeavored to give, in a series of articles, the elementary principles of Book-keeping, accompanied with suitable forms and illustrations. A choice selection of extensive and varied transactions, progressively arranged, are then given to the learner as exercises, which he is required to perform according to the references which accompany them. Our record of transactions is so arranged as to enable the learner to close and re-open his books several times, thus securing a thorough acquaintance and practice in open
ing, conducting, and closing accounts, and also in exhibiting a period. ical statement of the business (p. 47). We have regarded the Ledger and the books of Original Entry of primary importance, and have, therefore, taught the learner to conduct the books of an establishment by making two records of each transaction, namely, the Original and Ledger entries.
The principles of Book-keeping have been found to be few and simple, and by means of the number given to each article, we have been enabled to refer every entry to principles which govern a whole class of transactions. We have written up but few of the exercises given, yet the references throughout serve as a compass to direct the learner to governing principles, which will always tell him what to do, how to do it, and the nature of the principles involved. In this manner he is led step by step from the simplest to the most complicated entries, and the successive steps are so gradual and so well defined, that his progress will always be rapid and comprehensive. Were our exercises given in the usual form, they would enlarge our work to three times its present size, but we have simply given the transaction with references, requiring the learner to conduct the accounts, and really keep books himself.
In our plan and execution of this work, we have endeavored to ride no “hobbies," or to base it upon supposed excellence in some one thing only; as “Journalizing," “ Trial Balances,” “ Proving the Ledger," " Penmanship," etc.; but on the contrary, the peculiar feature consists in its general adaptation to a system of instruction.
If an individual does not record his own business transactions, he
should know when a record of them is correctly made and condncted. Not only the merchant and the mechanic, but the lawyer, the physisician, the farmer, and day-laborer, should each have some system in conducting and arranging his business transactions : it requires but little time, and often saves the parties concerned from doubt, perplexity, and dissatisfaction. In studying this branch, the learner is constantly exercised in Arithmetic, Orthography, Penmanship, and to these we may add system, neatness, and a rapid use of the pen. From the importance of this subject, and the discipline which it affords, it would seem to form an indispensable part of Primary Instruction.
Believing that a suitable text book upon this branch would facilitate its introduction into the system of popular education, this volume has been prepared, and is now most respectfully submitted to the teachers and friends of education.
JOSEPH H. PALMER. New-YORK FREE ACADEMY,
} September 16, 1851.
TO THE STUDENT.
Although our arrangement is simple yet some hints to the beginner will not be out of place.
1. Commence at Article 1, and read the successive Articles in order, being careful to examine every reference which is made, and to perform all the exercises suggested. Neither the Oral nor the Written exercises should be allowed the preference, since they are so connected in our plan, as to make Theory and Practice aid each other.
2. The first course, from page 12 to page 61, embraces nearly all the principles of double entry bookkeeping, with exercises for practice.
3. The second course is comprised in Article 42, 43. This leads the Student through the ordinary routine of Foreign Shipping, Commission, Partnerships, &c., with exercises for practice.
4. The third course opens with the Books of Original Entry, defining the office of each, with directions for Posting, and exercises for practice. To these are added Account Sales, Account Current, Invoice, Inventory, Practical Forms, Rules, &c.
5. In the first and second courses the original entries are made in the Day Book, but in the third they are classified and carried to separate books, Articles 2 and 44. The method adopted in the third course is most convenient in practice, and is therefore in general use.
6. The exercise mentioned in Article 49, is of the highest importance, and it may perhaps supersede the necessity of copying the original record as directed in Article 40; both should be done, however, when the time is not too limited.