image LBO_11i_047a
Image number: RS.14649
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Observations on plant seeds, skin, salt particles etc.


12 October 1685

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height (page): 278mm
width (page): 223mm


   > Botany

Content object

   > plant


18 figures. Engraving from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, vol. 17, no. 205 (1693), to accompany a copy of a letter from Antoni van Leeuwenhoek entered into the Letter Book. The original letter (without the original drawings) can be found in Early Letter L1/77. The original letter was from 1685. Leeuwenhoek published the letter with images in both Dutch (1685) and Latin (1687) before the letter was published in the Philosophical Transactions (1693).

Leeuwenhoek had the images drawn for him by an unknown artist.

Fig. 1: the seed of cotton
Fig. 2: a magnified version of the seed
Fig. 3: the seed opened
Fig. 4: structure of the embryo of a cotton plant (in the seed)
Fig. 5: seed of a date
Fig. 6: the bottom of the date seed with the small opening from where the embryo should grow
Fig. 7: the same seed grown so much that the root was now half a finger long
Fig. 8: another date seed, seen from the side, with a root grown to the length of DE
Fig. 9: is the small plant of a clove, EFG are the leaves folded together
Fig. 10: a cross section of the clove plant, of the part which would have become the stem
Fig. B: shows how the leaves of the clove plant started to separate a little, with Leeuwenhoek's failed attempts to make it grow
FIg. 11: one of the many seeds coming from one gooseberry
Fig. 12: one seed from one black currant
Fig. 13: the scales on the skin of a bream
Fig. 14: the microscopic observation of the slime on the skin of a perch
Fig. 15A: sharply shaped salt crystals in vinegar
Fig. 15B: irregularly shaped salt crystals in vinegar
Figs 16A&B: salt crystals in lemon juice, looking very similar to those in vinegar
Fig. 16C: common salt
Fig. 17: after combining sal volatile oleosum and wine-vinegar together, he observed this construction of three tubules and air bubbles.

Object history

The images were printed in:

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Ontledingen en ontdekkingen van het begin der planten enz. (Leiden: C. Boutesteijn, 1685), pp. 33-78.

Antonius a Leeuwenhoek, Anatomia seu interiora rerum (Leiden: C. Boutesteijn, 1687), pp. 82-118 (2nd numbering).

A. Leeuwenhoek, ‘Observations on the seeds of cotton, palm, or Date-stones, cloves, nutmegs, goose-berries, currants, tulips, cassia, lime tree; on the skin of the hand, and pores of sweat, the crystalline humour, optic nerves, gall, scales of fish, and salt particles’, Phil. Trans. vol. 17, no. 205 (November 1693), pp. 949-60, figs 1-18.

Related Fellows

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723, Dutch), Naturalist

Associated place

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