History of the Microscope

The Leeuwenhoek Microscope

Some Leeuwenhoek microscopes are not what they seem.
These studies reveal the appearance of a typical Leeuwenhoek
microscope. However, there is an intriguing aspect to each.

Leeuwenhoek original possible fake replica

1. The brass microscope (left) preserved at Delft.
This is the only Leeuwenhoek microscope still found in his home
town. It is the size of a rectangular postage stamp. The lens is missing,
but the focussing controls and the body plates are typical of those made by
Leeuwenhoek. The image quality produced by single-lensed microscopes
is surprisingly high.

2. Is this well-known example really a Leeuwwnhoek microscope?
An idea of size is given by this photo of the microscope at Antwerp (centre, above).
There are questions about the provenance of this microscope, and it may be a nineteenth
century forgery. It suddenly appeared in a catalogue, with no indication of its origins.
However, it does give a good impression of the real thing.

3. How a Leeuwenhoek microscope should look
Here (above, right) we obtain a good impression of the Leeuwenhoek microscope
in use. However, this instrument is a replica. It is a good copy of the Utrecht instrument,
made of brass like the original. The stage and focussing assembly are typical of those
produced by Leeuwenhoek in the late seventeenth century.

Move on to see genuine Leeuwenhoek microscopes.