This article focuses on the contents of two nineteenth-century letters which discuss the allocation of income among the partners of a leading Anglo-American merchant banking firm, the House of Brown. The writers debate alternative methods of valuing assets and determining yearly income. In addition, the handling of doubtful accounts and their subsequent collection is examined. In both letters the writers argue for the development of clearly defined accounting principles and consistency in applying them. These letters reveal that an unusually high degree of financial sophistication had emerged in the merchant banking field by the 1850s.

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