Juggling the books: The use of accounting information in circus in Australia

Lorne Cummings, Valentine Mark St Leon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


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. From our examination, we have abstracted and analysed material that expresses, or implies, the use of accounting information. Themes identified include the magnitude and nature of capital investments; ticket pricing and revenues; the nature and composition of operational costs; standards of internal control; insolvencies and liquidations. 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-33
Number of pages23
JournalAccounting History
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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