Figures

Figures in Leeuwenhoek's letters

Summary: 1,227 figures in 163 letters for a mean of 7.5 figures per letter that had figures.

Leeuwenhoek wrote his letters over a period of 50 years and 4 months between 1673 and 1723. Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters numbered them consecutively, 1 to 364.

Leeuwenhoek numbered 192 letters 1 to 146 and I to LVI. Cole (1937) expanded that with 147 to 190 and XLVII to LXI for a total of 251; these numbers are in square brackets on the table below. Cole also filled in with a, b, c and once even d for letters not numbered by Leeuwenhoek but written between letters he did number.

Only one letter that Leeuwenhoek did not number, from Period 1, Cole's #25a, contained figures, making a total of 252 in the sixth column. (See the asterisk below the table.)

The table shows, period by period, the distribution of the 1220 figures and the 163 letters that they illustrated. While these periods were not Leeuwenhoek's, they are based on his self-publications, Works I - IV.

On Lens on Leeuwenhoek, these figures can be accessed in three ways:

  • Letter by letter. See Periods 1 - 7 on the right sidebar Letters menu.
  • Through the publications in which they appeared, both Leeuwenhoek's Dutch and Latin volumes and the excerpts published by others, chiefly the Royal Society in Philosophical Transactions. See The Works on the right sidebar menu.
  • Through the section Leeuwenhoek's Cabinet of Wonders, where they will be organized by the type and part of each specimen as well as the system, function, or process that Leeuwenhoek was studying. See the Scientific career section.
Period #
yrs
AB / CL # AvL /
Cole #
# ltrs
w/ figs
# figs figs/yr
1 January 1, 1673 -
February 28, 1679
6 1 - 42 1 - 27 * 16 of 28  65 11
2 (Works I) March 1, 1679 -
December 31, 1686
8 43 - 96 28 - 52 24 of 25 219 27
3 (Works II) January 1, 1687 -
April 30, 1694
7 97 - 137 53 - 83 28 of 31 315 45
4 (Works III) May 1, 1694 -
April 24, 1702
8 138 - 236 84 - 146 35 of 63  194 24
5 April 25, 1702 -
June 30, 1712
10 237 - 294 [147] - [190] 29 of 44 244 24
6 (Works IV) July 1, 1712 -
December 31, 1717
6 295 - 346 I - XLVI 22 of 46  144 23
7 January 1, 1718 -
December 31, 1723
6 347 - 364 [XLVII] - [LXI] 9 of 15  46 8
     51 364
 251 163 of 252
1227
24

* In his letter of December 26, 1678, to Constantijn Huygens, Leeuwenhoek drew 3 figures of the scales on butterfly wings in response to drawings sent to him by Constantijn's son Christiaan. This letter was not numbered by Leeuwenhoek; it is #26a in Cole and #41 in Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters.

Figures in pre-1800 publications

# details
all figures in all letters 1,227 different figures in 163 letters
Originals at Royal Society 279 drawings in 43 of the first 294 of the 364 letters
AvL's first 27 letters 65 figures in 16 of 27 letters
AvL's self-published letters (Works I - IV) 872 figures in 109 of 165 self-published letters in Dutch and Latin
Philosophical Transactions 604 figures in 86 of 117 Philosophical Transactions articles
French, German, other Latin 136 figures in 22 of 83 letters
other Dutch and English 22 figures in 5 of 24 letters
English (Hoole) 378 figures in 57 of 79 letters with 635 figures; the 57 have only 545 figures because Hoole omitted 90 of them

Total: 2,28? possible variants of the 1,227 figures

Total: 2,00? printed figures and variants

(check these totals)


Figures in self-published letters

Summary: 865 figures in 108 of 165 letters

  # ltrs # ltrs
w/ figs
figs
Works I (Period 2)
  Brieven 25 24 219
Works II (Period 3)
  Vervolg 8 8 76
  Tweede 7 7 99
  Derde 8 7 83
  Vierde 8 6 57
  31 28 315
Works III (Period 4)
  Vijfde 13 7 48
  Sesde 11 5 32
  Sevende 39 23 114
  63 35 194
Works IV (Period 6)
  Send-Brieven 46 22 144
Totals 165 109 872