In 1843 Charles Dickens published his standard A Christmas Carol about the revolution of Ebenezer Scrooge. Like many who have actually read the book, i have also seen miscellaneous stage and also television productions over the years and also most that the attention was ~ above the overall theme. When one the the details – the name of Scrooge’s firm – captured my attention, I chose to apply some organization research skills in order come “learn” much more about the fictitious firm.

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The an initial place to walk was the text:

Scrooge never ever painted out Old Marley’s name. Over there it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The for sure was recognized as Scrooge and also Marley. Sometimes people new to the company called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, however he answered come both names. That was all the very same to him.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (New York : Hodder and Stoughton, 1911) //

Here we discover the name of the firm, Scrooge & Marley, and also the name of sole remaining partner – Ebenezer Scrooge. But how plenty of employees did the have and also what walk the firm do? other than the owner, the text only specifies one employee, a clerk called Bob Cratchit. The only thing the text reveals around the firm’s company was that it to be a counting-house. Follow to the Oxford English Dictionary this is a term that was offered as far earlier as the 15th century come indicate:

a) A structure or apartment appropriated to the maintaining of accounts; a personal chamber, closet, or room appropriated to business and also correspondence; one office. Now only together in c.

c) c. Spec. A building, room, or office in a commercial establishment, in i beg your pardon the book-keeping, correspondence, etc., are carried on; additionally attrib. (Now largely superseded in everyday use by office.) (1)


Caton’s Counting house //

Based ~ above this definition it appears that a counting-house is a role or department that exists in ~ a larger establishment – basically the accounting or audit department. Back this is no the situation with Scrooge & Marley, the seems most likely that the for sure at the very least offered accounting and accounting services.   if Dickens mentions counting-houses several times in American Notes and also the term mirrors up briefly in the nursery rhyme “Sing a song of Sixpence,” neither resource is really helpful in understanding what the firm Scrooge & Marley did. Unfortunately, what I thought was going to it is in a promise book, Counting house Book-Keeping, didn’t sell much assist because the author’s will was to write a “theoretical and practical” ideal practices book on “Counting-rooms and work-shops.” ns did some searching for news articles, yet didn’t come away v a better understanding of counting-houses. A strictly comparison is a little bit difficult, yet a stand-alone accountancy firm which has actually a NAICS password of 541219 and 541211 (there is no password for one internal audit / auditing function) is close.

Even despite Scrooge & Marley is fictional, I believed it would be exciting to find similar types of firms the were real. Detect those real-world, modern-day would-be rivals is a bit complicated but, in this situation, publish directories to be the best solution. Unfortunately, our publish collection of larger directories from England, Scotland, and also Ireland didn’t go far earlier enough to assist but the university of Leicester’s digital repertoire of historic directories had an 1841 Postal directory for the city that London. The classified sections didn’t have actually a classification for Counting-houses however there to be one for accountancy that detailed a number of firms consisting of Armstrong & Faircloth, Oliver George & Son, and Webb & Gibson.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (New York : Hodder and also Stoughton, 1911) //

The next thing to look at to be the security of the firm and again, ns went ago to the text. The an initial clue – exactly how Scrooge never re-painted the sign in the seven years since Jacob Marley passed away – renders clear the Scrooge to be very mindful of his service overhead and also kept prices low. Other ideas indicate that didn’t spend money on lot of anything and wouldn’t have been most likely to have gotten in jae won trouble as result of overspending. This is emphasized by the following:

The door that Scrooge’s counting-house was open up that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal tiny cell beyond, a type of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had actually a very tiny fire, yet the clerk’s fire to be so very much smaller that the looked prefer one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, because that Scrooge kept the coal-box in his very own room; and so surely as the clerk came in v the shovel, the master predicted that it would certainly be vital for them to part.

There is likewise this very descriptive quote around Scrooge:

Oh! but he to be a tight-fisted hand in ~ the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and also sharp together flint, from which no stole had ever before struck out generous fire; secret, and also self-contained, and solitary together an oyster.


He was likewise not a proponent of that company philanthropy if his conversation with the gentlemen search funds because that the negative was any indication. So, if that wouldn’t spend lot on repainting signs, coal, or that company philanthropy, one wonders if he would have spent any type of for publications for a little library, and also if that did, which people might he have had. A handy Compendium that the Law and Usage the Mercantile Accounts and also titles in Accounting Bibliography : historical Approach through Walter Hausdorfer might be representative, while his contemporaries in the United says would have been familiar with items in Bibliography of functions on accountancy by American Authors.

As for academic qualifications and previous occupational experience, the message offers couple of clues other than something mentioned throughout the visit through the Ghost of Christmas Past as soon as Scrooge is presented his life during his apprenticeship come Mr. Fezziwig.  This is most likely when the would have been made familiar with numerous of the late 18th and also early 19th century works cited in the Hausdorfer title above, and also writings by Malachy Postlethwayt, boy name Clare, thomas Watts, william Gordon, and also brothers Henry and also William Augustus Clarke that were had in Education because that the Mercantile counting House: vital and Constructive Essays by ripe British Writers, 1716-1794.

After being visited by the ghosts the Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas however to Come, Ebenezer Scrooge to be a changed man. Once Bob Cratchit involved work a bit late and also Scrooge forgave the tardiness as well as indicating the was giving his employee a raise, Cratchit to be so surprised he wonder what to be wrong v his employer. The events of that night adjusted Scrooge personally, that knows what alters he can have made to his business.

NOTE (1): “counting-house, n.”. OED Online. December 2014. Oxford university Press. Http:// (accessed December 16, 2014).

UPDATE: Steve Winnick who writes because that the Library blog Folklife Today wrote a post “More about the service of Scrooge and also Marley: one Ethnographic Approach” that adds even an ext to the photo but teasing out new details. It is absolutely worth a read.

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