Columbus's First Voyage: Profit Or Loss From A Historical Accountant's Perspective

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David Satava


Columbus, finance


Determining the cost of Columbus's first voyage to the new world is very difficult to do with any degree of accuracy.  The primary reasons for this is that the complete set of records does not exist and may not have ever existed.  As a result, scholars have proposed a wide variety of figures supposedly representing the costs of Columbus's first voyage. Because of the conflicting information associated with this voyage, a three-step decision-making model approach was developed and used when deciding between conflicting accounting figures. In addition, several historical events, such as the sinking of the Santa Maria and the lifetime finder's fee annuity for being the first to spot land in the new world was reviewed for their possible effect on the accounting for this voyage. Overall, the purpose of this paper is to prepare a pro-forma financial statement in order to determine whether or not Columbus's first voyage was profitable or not. 


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