It is now a dozen years since Colonel Sprague issued his first edition of "The Philosophy of Accounts," and a number of years since death terminated his career of unusual activity and achievement. As the years pass by the truly fundamental nature of his teaching and writing along lines of accounting and investment becomes more clear. In the subject of accounting particularly, which has developed with giant strides in that interval, it is surprising how accurately his logical mind outlined fundamental points of theory accepted as common enough now, but hardly more than mathematical generalizations when they were advanced by him. It has been well said that Sprague stands as the first American writer on the subject of modem accounting theory.
Colonel Sprague's work on "The Philosophy of Accounts," therefore, stands today as a classic of American accounting literature. Even in its fragmentary form of a twenty-one chapter discussion with two short monographs on the Cash account and the Merchandise account, it presents a most remarkable and complete piece of consistent logical reasoning. Other writers have elaborated the principles so clearly set forth by Colonel Sprague, and the development of technique has moved far beyond anything that was thought of in the days when "The Philosophy of Accounts" was written. Nevertheless, the principles will stand as he set them forth, and every accountant whose professional training is complete is supposed to have read this work in its original form.
For these reasons the publishers are bringing out this edition of "The Philosophy of Accounts." Preceding the text of the discussion are four short tributes from men who knew Colonel Sprague well when he was still actively engaged in educational work. Following this is the discussion proper.