Wrote Letter L-083 of 1679-05-11 to Lambert van Velthuysen about people with gout

May 11, 1679
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Information about the letter in the original Dutch and in English translation from Alle de Brieven. The Collected Letters at the DBNL - De Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren.

This letter was never published. In it, Leeuwenhoek wrote about "the figures of plants visible in seeds; of the spiral vessels in seeds, in wood, and in other parts of plants; of mould on old leather and its formation; of leukorrhea."

This quotation comes from Harting's Gedenkboek for the 1875 exhibition in Delft. Leukorrhea is how the editors of Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters translated witten vloed, literally, "whitening flood". They also note that the signed letter had "Three folio pages. With drawings." It is not clear from the Gedenkenboek how the editors knew that.

Harting was exhibiting his copy of this letter, listed as item #48 on page 124 and briefly summarized. At the time, the letter was in the possession of J. van Dam van Noordeloos, of Rotterdam, but then went missing.

In this letter, L. discusses the figures of plants visible in seeds, spiral vessels in seeds, in wood, and in other parts of plants, mould on old leather and its formation, and leucorrhoea. He explains the effects of dampness on mold, about which he had written in Letter L-001 to Henry Oldenburg.

This letter is the text of Letter 45, Collected Letters, vol. 3, which was known in 1948 but considered lost. In the Remarks on p. 43, the existence of the letter is noted through 1875 and its contents is summarized, but “the manuscript evidently got lost; likewise a copy.” The manuscript has since been recovered and is included in Collected Letters, vol. 20, as the present Letter L-083.

In the 1990s, Collected Letters editor Lodewijk Palm learned that the manuscript was in the library of Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania, U.S.). According to a 13 December 1997 letter to Mr. Palm from Professor James R. Tanis, “The letter was given to the Library by the Frank Cutter Deering Trust about fifteen years ago.” From the manuscripts librarian Kathleen Whalen, Mr. Palm received a letter dated 3 February 1998 with a copy of L.’s letter, photographs of the figures, and permission to publish them.