image EL_L2_08_Fig03
Image number: RS.15783
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Detail of a human molar


4 April 1687


Unknown, Artist

Object type

Archive reference number

Manuscript page number




height (page): 81mm
width (page): 110mm



In a letter from Antoni van Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society.

Fig. 4: a small part of human tooth.

Object history

At the meeting of the Royal Society on 13 April 1687, ‘Part of Mr. Leewenhoeck’s letter of April 4, N.S. was read concerning the structure of the teeth, which he found from microscopic observations in all animals to be made up of bony vessels and pipes, which all take their rise from the inside or cavity of the teeth; and that all these vessels have their particular blood-vessels, that feed them, and convey nourishment to them. And the obstruction of these bony pipes he conceived to be the cause of the rotting of the teeth and the exceedingly acute pain of the tooth-ach. The rest of the letter was ordered to be translated’ (Birch 4:531).

On 27 April 1687, ‘The latter part of Mr. Leewenhoeck’s letter of the 4th of April was read, wherein he farther prosecuted the inquiry into the make of the teeth of several animals’ (Birch 4:533).

The letter and images are printed in:
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Vervolg der brieven, enz.. (Leiden: C. Boutesteijn, 1687), pp. 1-16. With five figures.

Bibliothèque universelle et historique, 26 vols (Amsterdam, 1686-93), IX (1688), 292-94. (French extract)

Acta eruditorum, 50 vols (Leipzig, 1682-1731), VIII (1689), 171-72. (Latin extract)

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Continuatio epistolarum (Leiden: C. Boutesteijn. 1689), pp. 1-12. With five figures.

Related Fellows

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

Associated place

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