This paper presents in a nutshell a comparison between the application of double entry bookkeeping in Dubrovnik and the views about double entry bookkeeping laid out in the book by Benko Kotruljević Della mercatura et del mercanteperfetto, published in 1573. This comparison is then also examined in subsequently discovered copies (the Florentine – 1484 and the Maltese – 1475) with the content and chronologically closer original from 1458.
The Account Books of the Caboga (Kabužić) Brothers 1426–1433, are the oldest and sole preserved example of account books of double entry bookkeeping in the Privata series, kept in the Historical Archive of Dubrovnik. The application of the new method in double entry bookkeeping differs from the views of B. Kotruljević in Chapter XIII of his book, where he elaborated only the basic rules in the system of double entry bookkeeping. This refers mainly to the subsequently discovered copies (the Florentine – 1484 and the Maltese – 1475), even though they are more complete in content and chronologically closer to the original text (1458).
The Account Books, particularly the Ledger of the Kabužić Brothers, contain data about the export of large quantities of silver, auriferous silver (argento indorato) and gold from Serbia, as well as silver from Bosnia, exclusively to Venice, the most important precious metals market in the Europe of those times. Measures were regularly entered, ratios of ducats and groschen, as well as many other important details. They also contain testimony of the vast amounts of exported wax to the cities of central Italy – Pesaro, Fano, Fermo, and Rimini, where the renowned fairs were held.
The rapid development of trade, especially between the hinterland (Serbia, Bosnia) and the Mediterranean, imposed the need to create a clearer and more sophisticated system of documentation. This need had already propelled and largely contributed to the use of double entry bookkeeping in Dubrovnik in the initial years of the 15th century. And, Benko Kotruljević, the first theorist of double entry bookkeeping, was born and raised in such an environment.