Levende Dierkens

Leeuwenhoek, A. van
Leiden: Boutesteyn

Full title

Ontledingen en Ontdekkingen van Levende Dierkens in de Teel-deelen van verscheyde Dieren, Vogelen en Visschen; van het Hout met der selver meningvuldige Vaaten; Van Hair, Vlees en Vis; Als mede van de groote menigte der Dierkens in de Excrementen.

Vervat in verscheyde Brieven, Geschreven aan de Wyt-vermaarde Koninglijke Wetenschap-zoekende Societeit, tot Londen in England.

Dissections and Discoveries of Living Animals in the Generative parts of various Animals, Birds, and Fish; of the Skin with the same abundant Vessels; Of Hair, Meat, and Fish; as well as the great number of Animals in Excrement.

Contained in various Letters, Written to the Widely-famed Royal Knowledge-seeking Society, of London in England.

Dobell #8: Letters 28 - 31, 34 - 36

AB/CL # 43, 54, 57, 60, 66, 67, 68

One of the five pamphlets whose title began Ontledingen en Ontdekkingen van .... It had seven letters written between April 1679 and April 1682. They were all addressed to officers of the Royal Society: five to Robert Hooke and one each to Thomas Gale and Nehemiah Grew.

Levende Dierkens had a frontispiece, a title page, Letters 28-31 on pages 5-40, and Letters 34-36 on pages 1-35. Dobell noted that all the letters were unnumbered, but the version at Utrecht University Library had     

Some copies had as the frontispiece de Hooghe's Artemis print with Leeuwenhoek's name on the bottom and Ontdekte Onsigtbaarheeden on the pedestal. Perhaps that it why Leeuwenhoek separately paginated Letters 34 - 36.

It is available online from the Utrecht University Library.

Dobell #8a

A second edition was published by Boutesteyn in Leiden in 1696. Dobell called it a "2nd enlarged (?) impression".

The title pages were different and the typesettings where slightly different.

The letters were preceded by their number and date.

The upside down figure on page 19 in Letter 35 was corrected.

The "Ontdekte Onsigtbaarheden" frontispiece by de Hooghe was replaced with the Verkolje/Blois portrait of Leeuwenhoek.

The Bavarian State Library has made scans of two variants available online.


They have a scan available online of Letters 28 - 31 followed by Letter 45 instead of Letters 34 - 36.

n.p., n.d.

They have another scan of only Letters 34 - 36.

These two variants are discussed in the Case studies on the right sidebar menu.

Letter 28 and Letters 34, 35, and 36 were first published in Robert Hooke's Philosophical Collections. Letter 29 was published first in Philosophical Transactions. However, Letters 30 and 31 were not published in Philosophical Transactions until 1693.


Two-thirds of the figures were on separate plates. The rest were placed in the text. Only Letter 36 of April 4, 1682 (AB 68) to Robert Hooke was without figures.

Letter 28 of April 25, 1679 to Nehemiah Grew had one figure on page 9. It filled the page; in later publications, he would have treated this as a plate inserted between two pages.

Letter 29 of January 12, 1680 to Robert Hooke had 25 figures on two large fold-out plates.

Letter 30 of April 5, 1680 to Robert Hooke had one plate with two figures inserted btwen pp 34 and 35.

Letter 31 of May 13, 1680 to Thomas Gale had one unnumbered figure within the text on p. 40.

Letter 34 of November 4, 1681 to Robert Hooke had four figures in the text on p. 3.

Letter 35 of March 3, 1682 to Robert Hooke had six figs in the text. In the 1686 first edition only, Fig. 1 was printed upside down.