Jugglers, clowns and showmen: the use of accounting information in circus in Australia

Lorne Cummings, Mark Valentine St Leon

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper outlines the use of accounting information in circus in Australia in the approximate period 1847-1963. Responding to the call for a greater focus on the historical narrative in accounting, we have explored the personal experiences of participants in circus in Australia that express, or imply in some way, a financial perspective. The use of accounting information in describing and analysing the; magnitude and nature of capital investments; basis of price determination in relation to revenues and operational costs (including labour); methods of internal control; and the insolvencies of Australian circus enterprises, are among the themes examined. Whilst many Australian circus people possessed only basic levels of education, they did exhibit an intuitive grasp of fundamental accounting principles, albeit in a rudimentary form. Financial and management reporting practises were however typically unsystematic and infrequent in all but the largest circus enterprises, leaving many unable to respond to the changing needs of the social, economic and cultural landscape throughout nineteenth and twentieth century Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventAccounting History International Conference (5th : 2007) - Banff, Canada
Duration: 9 Aug 200711 Aug 2007


ConferenceAccounting History International Conference (5th : 2007)
CityBanff, Canada


  • circus
  • historiography
  • accounting history
  • social history
  • narrative


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