One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A ledger listing the shareholders in a mine, a summary of all costs and expenses incurred in working the mine, returns from sales, and a balance of profit or loss.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Royal Cornwall Gazette. From cost + book.
cost book/ˈkɔːst bʊk//ˈkɒst bʊk/
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