Booksellers

Further complicating matters, Leeuwenhoek worked with six publishers/printers/booksellers over the years, three each in Leiden and Delft. On the title pages, they called themselves booksellers. They may have printed the editions also.

In that time, bookbinding was a commercially separate part of the process. After the signatures were sewn, the quickest, cheapest binding was cardboard. The most common more permanent binding in Leeuwenhoek's time was vellum. Many buyers would take one of these to their own binder, who would use more expensive leather and gold leafing that fit the other volumes on the buyer's library shelves. The image on the right shows the interior of the shop of Amsterdam bookseller Hermanus de Wit, a 1763 engraving by Reinier Vinkeles. Note that de Wit employees his own bookbinder.

When Leeuwenhoek began publishing his letters, in 1684, Leiden had two dozen printers for him to choose from. He began with Daniel van Gaesbeeck, active from 1655 to 1693, but the following year switched to Cornelis Boutesteyn, who was active from 1679 to 1710.

In Delft, without a university, the publishing industry was much smaller. Only eight booksellers were active during Leeuwenhoek's whole publishing career:

  • Arnold Bon 1652 - 1690
  • Cornelis Blommesteyn 1667 - 1689
  • Andries Vorstad 1680 - 1722
  • Hendrik van Kroonevelt 1688 - 1702
  • Johannes Speyers 1689 - 1699
  • Hendrik van Rhijn 1690 - 1725
  • Adriaan Beman 1693 - 1736
  • Reinier Boitet 1714 - 1758

When he began publishing in Delft in 1688, he had only the first four to choose from. Apparently things didn't work out with Andries Voorstad, so Leeuwenhoek began working with one of the others, the new guy, who happened to live and work next door: Hendrik van Kroonevelt. Kroonevelt printed Sevende Vervolg der Brieven in 1702, his last year of activity. He died six years later.

In 1718, Leeuwenhoek wanted to publish his next batch of letters, also his largest, the 46 letters in Send-Brieven. He had only the final three booksellers on the list above to choose from. He choose Adriaan Beman, who had bought Arnold Bon's house and business on the Markt. Apparently that didn't work out, either. In his will of 1721, Leeuwenhoek called Beman a scoundrel and banned him from his funeral.

The booksellers each have a page linked to the right sidebar. The sidebars show a cover printed by each of them along with the years of the editions, versions, and re-translations that they issued, as best we know.

  • in Leiden, Daniel van Gaesbeeck in 1684, Cornelis Boutesteyn from 1685 to 1708, and Johan Arnold Langerak after 1713
  • in Delft, Andries Voorstad in 1688 and 1689, Hendrik Cronevelt from 1694 to 1702, and Adriaan Beman in 1718 and 1719

While they never overlapped in the same city, Leeuwenhoek used both Voorstad and Croonevelt in Delft while Cornelis Boutesteyn was publishing other letters in Leiden. Similarly, he used Beman in Delft in the midst of the volumes being printed by Langerak. The archives of Leiden publisher Luchtmans documents a business relationship between Beman and Boutesteyn continuing well after Boutsteyn's death in 1713 in Beman's dealings with Boutesteyn's widow (source: Amsterdamse Boekhandel 1680-1725, van Eeghen and de Lorme, 1960-1978, vol. V p. 142, 308).

Looking at the timeline of publications, it seems clear that Cornelis Boutesteyn was Leeuwenhoek's most important publisher. Gaesbeek published only six letters in 1684 and Langerak got involved only after Boutesteyn's death in 1713. Leiden, because of the university, along with Amsterdam was the most active publishing center in Europe at the time.

In Delft, Leeuwenhoek worked chiefly with his next-door neighbor, Hendrik Cronevelt (Kroonevelt) for a number of mostly Dutch publications. Their business relationship lasted for less than a decade, but for Leeuwenhoek, it was the most productive decade of his career. While Boutesteyn was publishing the Latin versions of the letters, presumably for the academic and export market, Cronevelt, presumably working closely with his next-door neighbor and using the same copper plates that Boutesteyn used, was printing -- and making small changes to -- the Dutch versions.

The other two Delft publishers were involved with only single volumes for short periods of time.

As shown on the tables, a couple of Leeuwenhoek's later editions were issued by different shops than had issued the first edition. They used the same copper plates for the figures. The frames of type may have been re-distributed but Leeuwenhoek would have owned the plates and would have given them to the subsequent printer. Sometimes they used the same typesetting but sometimes made minor changes in punctuation. Sometimes they had different Latin translations.