Wrote Letter L-341 around April 1698 to Harmen van Zoelen about using plaster to whitewash wooden storage containers to prevent damage from worms

April 15, 1698
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This letter is known only by reference in another letter.

Letter L-355 of 26 April 1699 to Rotterdam merchant and politician Harmen van Zoelen (1625-1702)

I then sent Your Honour my suggestion to coat or whitewash the woodwork where the mace lies with plaster, as is done with our walls, and I said that when this is done, the aforesaid little worms will not bite through the plaster. I am also of opinion that if the cases or crates in which the Merchandise should be locked up were also coated with plaster or whitewashed by means of a brush with some thick plaster, the white ants would not be able to bite through the plaster.

According to other details in Letter L-355 of 26 April 1699, the present letter to Harmen van Zoelen was written around April 1698 (“about a year ago”) when Leeuwenhoek, traveling to Utrecht, met a gentleman who owned nutmeg and mace farms in Banda with whom he discussed mace. Somewhat later (“since that time”), a visitor told Leeuwenhoek about how pests were treated in the Indies. It is that information that Leeuwenhoek passed on to van Zoelen with the present letter.

The present letter is the third of four known letters from Leeuwenhoek to van Zoelen. Letter L-309 of the “latter part” of 1696 about what Leeuwenhoek had learned from a trader from the East Indies is known only by the reference to it in Letter L-355 of 26 April 1699. Letter L-349 of 17 December 1698 contains excerpts from three letters that Leeuwenhoek had written in 1677 and 1678 to refute Hartsoeker’s claim that he had been the first to examine sperm with a microscope. Letter L-355 is about the damage caused to mace by insects and their larvae, the chalking of wood to combat noxious white ants, and the biting and stinging of ants.