Article ID: CBB768952417

Antony Van Leeuwenhoek's Microscopes and Other Scientific Instruments: New Information From the Delft Archives (2016)


This paper discusses the scientific instruments made and used by the microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723). The immediate cause of our study was the discovery of an overlooked document from the Delft archive: an inventory of the possessions that were left in 1745 after the death of Leeuwenhoek's daughter Maria. This list sums up which tools and scientific instruments Leeuwenhoek possessed at the end of his life, including his famous microscopes. This information, combined with the results of earlier historical research, gives us new insights about the way Leeuwenhoek began his lens grinding and how eventually he made his best lenses. It also teaches us more about Leeuwenhoek's work as a surveyor and a wine gauger.A further investigation of the 1747 sale of Leeuwenhoek's 531 single lens microscopes has not only led us to the identification of nearly all buyers, but also has provided us with some explanation about why only a dozen of this large number of microscopes has survived.

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Authors & Contributors
Joop van Doorn
Willem Reijnders
Henk Smit
Jantien Backer
Lesley Robertson
Ian M. Davis
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Studium: Tijdschrift voor Wetenschaps- en Universiteitgeschiedenis
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Parergon: Bulletin of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Leo S. Olschki Editore
Cambridge University Press
Scientific apparatus and instruments
Instrument makers
Leeuwenhoek, Antoni van
Swammerdam, Jan
Hooke, Robert
Hudde, Johannes
Purkyne, Jan Evangelista
Vallisnieri, Antonio
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
16th century
Delft (Netherlands)
Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Royal Society of London

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