Wrote Letter 54 of 1687-05-09 (AB 99) to Members of the Royal Society about the structure of 'stone' of the medlar and the coffee bean and acid in plants

May 9, 1687
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Text of 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.

The original manuscript, written and signed by Leeuwenhoek, is preserved at the Royal Society (MS. 1917. L 2. 8).


The original drawings are lost. The Dutch and Latin editions that Leeuwenhoek published used the same plate with all seven figures. The one on the left (click to enlarge) came from the 1730 fourth edition of Continuatio Epistolarum, as did the images on the sidebar. In the text, Leeuwenhoek noted that someone else drew the figures.

Now in order to visualize this and get a better understanding of it, I have thought fit to have some of this flour-like substance (which would have constituted the kernel) to be drawn, as it appears before a microscope.

Other publications

While the Royal Society did not publish this letter in Philosophical Transactions, it was extracted twice in foreign journals, as were all the letters in Vervolg der Brieven, Letters 53 through 60. In the year after it was written, Jean Le Clerk published an excerpt, without any figures, in Bibliothèque universelle et historique, vol. 9, pp. 294-297.

In 1689, Otto Mencke pubished a very short extract, again without figures, in Acta eruditorum, vol. 8, p. 172.