Arcana Naturae Detecta

Leeuwenhoek, A. van
Delphis Batavorum: Krooneveld

Full title

Arcana Naturae Detecta

Nature's Mysteries Disclosed

Dobell #25: Letters 32, 33, 37, 39, 40, 41, 61-92

Dobell #25c:

In 1722, Johan Langerak in Leiden published a new edition with a different translation by the same figures. Title page: Editio novissima, auctior et correctior (latest edition, enlarged and corrected)

de Hooghe "eye" frontis (see #15) hatching out Crooneveld's name and date and changing Dutch "Vijfde Vervolg …" to Latin "Arcana Naturae …" + new title page + index (t of c) -- text from index at beginning of each letter -- doesn't have the portrait the earlier editions had    frontis + title + xiv (index) + 1-515 + xxiv (index)         front index is a t of c; back index is alpha topics        yes   

Dobell lists two other editions, #25a of 1696 and #25b of 1708, but he has no notes for them. Neither does Schierbeek. I think that's because they never saw them. I think Dobell had heard about them from others, who told him the title, which included the words Arcana Naturae Detecta. Schierbeek then repeated Dobell.

The 1696 and 1708 volumes of Arcana Naturae Ope & beneficio are incorrectly listed in Dobell and Schierbeek as later editions of the similarly titled 25. Arcana Naturae Detecta. The other title begins, Arcana Naturae Ope & beneficio exquisitissimorum Microscopiorum Detecta. However, it has the same letters as 22. Anatomia Seu interiora Rerum, Cum Animatarum tum Inanimatarum and is thus the same publication with a new title.

I can find no other evidence of 1696 and 1708 editions of 25. Arcana Naturae Detecta, not in STCN, Google Books, or any of the library archives that have other Leeuwenhoek volumes.

However, there are 1696 and 1708 editions of Arcana Naturae Ope & beneficio exquisitissimorum Microscopiorum Detecta.

Thus, Dobell was mistaken.

The difference between his #22 and #23 was that the second had the correct spellings of two words misspelled in the title of #22. I assign #22 to all of the re-titled editions.

This volume was often sold with Dobell #26 Continuatio Arcanorum naturæ detectorum in a two-volume set.

Comparing it to the Dutch editions, Arcana Naturae Detecta has all the letters in Tweede, Derde, and Vierde Vervolg, Letters 61-83, along with the first nine of the 13 letters in Vijfde Vervolg, Letters 84-92. In addition, it has the six letters that Gaesbeeck printed in Dutch in 1684, Letters 32, 33, 37, 39-41 that were not in the Latin translations printed by Boutesteyn in the 1680's.

Front Matter

The front matter of the first edition had two frontispieces, the Verkolje portrait of Leeuwenhoek followed by de Hooghe's Eye of Providence print. As in Vijfde Vervolg, it had a the short explanation by Rabus on the verso, here in Latin translation.

The title page came next and then a dedication from Leeuwenhoek to Antonio Magliabechi.

The front matter concluded with a one-page Typographus Lectori.

The 1722 ediiton Editio Novissima, Auctior & Correctior had only the de Hooghe print and added an Index, which was a summary of the topics in each of the letters, more like abstracts or a table of contents.


1695 Hess ( Verkolje portrait, de Hooghe "Eye of Providence" frontis, Rabus explanation, title page, 3-page dedication, 1-page Typographus Lectori

1695 Ernst (Hathi Trust): de Hooghe "Eye of Providence" frontis, Rabus explanation, title page, 3-page dedication, 1-page Typographus Lectori, Verkolje portrait

1722 Madrid (Real Jardín Botánico): de Hooghe "Eye of Providence" frontis, title page, Index Rerum / Epistolis Contentarum (Index of things contained in the Letters) on 14 unnumbered pages


1695 Hesse: ix (x in) + 1-568 + xiv (index & emendanda).

1695 Ernst: x + 1-568 + xiv

1722 Madrid: xvii + 1-515 + xxiii (index & errata)

de Hooghe frontis:

Delphis Batavorum apud Henricum Crooneveld M DC XCV
Arcana Naturae detecta ab Antonio van Leeuwenhoek


Letters 32-41 unnumbered and Letters 61-92 numbered with continuous pagination.  The Latin translation of Dobell #1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, and part of 15.


This Latin edition used the same plates as the previously published Dutch editions of these letters. In Kroneveld's edition of 1695, the plates with Figure 3 and Figures 6 -9 illustrating Letter 41 of April 14, 1684 were reversed. In the 1722 edition, the plates were correctly placed.

Back Matter

1695: index (alphabetical by topic and page numbers), his first, on 13 unnumbered pages. It also had a full-page emendanda.

1722: an expansion of the 1695 index on 23 unnumbered pages. The final page had a short Errata.

       In the scan from below, previous owner Johaan Heinrich Hess, who also owned #25 Arcana Natura, added numbers to the first page of each letter in ink. They were not Leeuwenhoek's letter numbers, so it must have been Hess's own system, the numbering picking up at 55 where it left off in his copy of Arcana Naturae 1708 above.

Bookplate of
Johann Heinrich Hess

Bookplate of
Christian Ernst (1691 - 1771)
Count of Stolberg-Wernigerode

For a Dutch-language contemporaneous review of this volume, see Peter Rabus's "A. Leeuwenhoeks Geheimen der Natuere", De Boekzaal van Europe, Nov. and Dec. 1695, p. 472.