Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Paulus Lescherius, Rhetorica pro conficiendis epistolis accommodata (Cologne: Heinrich Quentell, [c. 1495]; also recorded as [1494-1500])

Rhetorica pro conficiendis epistolis accommodata

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This text, written by the German scholar Paul Lescher (or Paulus Lescherius) at the end of the 15th century, is the last of the seven texts of the Sammelband (IKUL 031), and was printed around the same time as the others. In contrast to the other texts, however, it was not printed in Leipzig, in the east of the country, but in Cologne, a city in the west of Germany that had been important since the Middle Ages. Like the other texts in the volume, Lescher's work deals with the composition of verse, with special attention given to the method of letter writing. About Lescher little is currently known, but one extant record states that he was employed at the University of Ingolstadt, in South Bavaria. At the end of the 15th century, the University of Ingolstadt flourished under the strong influence of humanism, and it is likely that Lescher was one of the humanist professors there. As this text was printed in Cologne, we can be sure that his fame spread from southern Bavaria at least up to Cologne in the northwest of the country. Not only was Cologne an important commercial center from the Middle Ages onwards, but Germany's fourth oldest university was founded there in 1378, where from an early stage the artes liberales were employed in the curriculum.

The printer of this text, Heinrich Quentell, was famous throughout the country. We know that between the years 1479 and 1500 he printed about 400 works. His main concern was to print Latin works, and he hardly published any books in the German vernacular. In many of his works we find examples of so-called Accipies, woodcut illustrations placed before the text, which can almost be regarded as his printer's device, and characterise his works the most. The woodcut picture he used for this print utilises the so-called Magister cum Disciple theme, and it could be concluded from this that the text was basically intended for university use. However, even though we assume that this text was produced for the same reason as the six texts printed in Leipzig (IKUL 031a-f), in contrast to these Leipzig publications the Cologne text has very narrow line spacing, and is printed in a small letter size. There are hardly any annotations more substantial than the red underlines used in the text. The question as to how this text came to Leipzig from Cologne – whether it had been transported there in person, or been delivered there by means of Cologne's strong commercial publishing market – cannot be determined at this stage.



Lescherius, Paulus
Place of Publication
Heinrich Quentell


Date of Publication
[1495]; [1494-1500]

Volume of seven texts [031a-g] in a contemporary German half pigskin leather binding over wooden boards engraved with blind stamping, using a ms fragment, a fully functional hook-clasp fastening with ornamental engraving.

Bibliographical Notes

24 leaves; a large woodcut illustration on the title page; spaces for initial capitals; underlines supplied in red.

Goff L183, HC 10033*, BMC I 294, PP 44, IJL 199, IJL2 249
Acquisition Year

Hartung und Karl, München 8 November 1988, lot 241.