image Leeuwenhoek A v, IM006892
Image number: RS.15798
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Microscopic observations of sand


4 December 1703


Unknown, Artist

Object type

Archive reference number

Manuscript page number




height (page): 202mm
width (page): 157mm


Content object

   > mineral


13 images in a letter by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society. Leeuwenhoek had the drawings made by a draftsman. Leeuwenhoek had three artists ('konstschilders') visiting his workshop while he was observing these grains of sand, and it is not unlikely that one of them drew the images on this sheet of paper.

Fig. 1: a hexagonal grain of sand
Fig. 2: a slightly bigger and flatter grain of sand with a ruined temple with some pillars
Fig. 3: a hexagonal grain of sand, with two sharp pyramidal points
Fig. 4: a triangular grain of sand
Fig. 5: a hexagonal grain of sand with small pits
Fig. 6: another hexagonal grain seen from the side
Fig. 7: a hexagonal grain with reflective surface
Fig. 8: a grain of sand, 'in which the bosses with their sides are designated', but according to Leeuwenhoek, it was impossible to depict its regularity and beauty.
Fig. 9: the same grain, from another side
Fig. 10: another gleaming little grain of sand
Fig. 11: grain of sand with three of the four oblique sides visible
Fig. 12: the full length of the grain in fig. 11
Fig. 13: a grain of sand with four sides.

Object history

The Journal Book mentions on 26 January 1703/4, 'A Letter was read from Mr Leeuwenhoeck concerning the Figures of Sand; he was Thanked, and the Transactions he wants, order'd to be sent him' (JBO/11/40).

Printed as:
A. Leeuwenhoek, ‘Concerning figures of sands’, Phil. Trans. vol. 24, no. 289 (January and February 1704), pp. 1537-55. Tab. 1, figs 1-13.

Related Fellows

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

Associated place

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