image Leeuwenhoek A V, IM005910
Image number: RS.8491
Credit: © The Royal Society
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Leeuwenhoek’s microscope


17th century


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

Object type

Archive reference number

Image reference



length: 100mm


   > Optics
      > Microscopy


Single lens microscope, replica of an instrument by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek.

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek developed his own very strong microscopes. Each had a tiny single lens, but they could magnify up to 250 times. Van Leeuwenhoek investigated the structure of muscles and plants , the shapes of crystals in grains of sand and much more. He was the first to describe microscopic organisms living in water. We know them today as bacteria and protozoa.

Object history

Leeuwenhoek wrote many letters to the Royal Society, keeping the Fellows informed of his discoveries.

Associated place

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   > Europe
      > Netherlands