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Re: [pepysdiary] Van Leeuwenhoek microscope takes £260 ,000

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  • Susan Thomas
    Thank you to Terry and Michael for this fascinating detail about early microscopes - great start to my day! A.S.
    Message 1 of 3 , May 11, 2009
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      Thank you to Terry and Michael for this fascinating detail about early
      microscopes - great start to my day!


      Terry Foreman wrote:
      > Michael,
      > Great find!
      > In 1666 Leeuwenhoek was named Chamberlain of the Council Chamber of the
      > Worshipful Sherriffs of Delft. That was the year his wife died, and two
      > years later Leeuwenhoek made one of the only two foreign trips that he
      > took
      > in his lifetime, visiting the chalk hills of Gravesend and Rochester in
      > Kent. His other occasion for travel abroad was a journey that he made to
      > Antwerp in 1698 to see the Jesuit scholar Daniel Papenbroek. Upon his
      > return to delft in 1699 he was appointed surveyor to the court of Holland.
      > In the meantime Leeuwenhoek continued to advance in the service of the
      > city
      > of Delft, being made chief warden of the city in 1677 and, because of his
      > mathematical skills, “wine and liquor gauger” (or inspector of weights
      > and
      > measures) in 1679. The income and emoluments from these offices made him
      > financially secure, especially in his old age, when the municipality, in
      > gratitude for his scientific achievements, granted him a pension.
      > Leeuwenhoek remarried on January 25, 1671. His second wife was Cornelia
      > Swalmius, the daughter of Johannes Swalmius, a Calvinist minister at
      > Valkenburg, near Leiden. She died in 1694; the one child of this marriage
      > did not survive infancy. It probably that his second wife, who was an
      > educated women, gave Leeuwenhoek the impetus to his scientific activity.
      > The income from his public offices as well as a family inheritance
      > gave him
      > sufficient resources to launch his exploration of the microscopic worlds.
      > In 1676 he served as the trustee of the estate of the deceased and
      > bankrupt
      > Jan Vermeer, the famous painter, who had been born in the same year as
      > Leeuwenhoek and is thought to have been a friend of his.
      > At the time of his appointment in 1666 he had already begun to broaden
      > his
      > scientific horizons, studying navigation, astronomy, mathematics and
      > natural sciences.
      > Into science
      > Leeuwenhoek’s scientific life may be said to have begun in about 1671,
      > when
      > he was thirty-nine years old. At that time, developing the idea of the
      > glasses used by drapers to inspect the quality of cloth, he
      > constructed his
      > first simple microscope or magnifying glasses, consisting of a minute
      > lens,
      > ground by hand from a globule of glass, clamped between two small
      > perforated metal plates.
      > He seems to have been inspired to take up microscopy by having seen a
      > copy
      > of Robert Hooke’s illustrated book Micrographia, which depicted
      > Hooke’s own
      > observations with the microscope and was very popular.
      > It was through his letters - more than 300 of them, written to private
      > scientists and amateurs in both Holland and other countries - that
      > Leeuwenhoek made his work known. He wrote exclusively in Dutch, but had a
      > few of his letters translated for the benefit of his correspondents.
      > It was
      > his friend Regnier de Graaf (1641-1693) who made sure that Leeuwenhoek's
      > achievements became known to a wider audience. De Graaf put
      > Leeuwenhoek in
      > contact with the Royal Society in London, to which he communicated
      > most of
      > his discoveries in papers in the form of a lengthy correspondence with
      > Henry Oldenburg, the Society’s secretary. His first letter, of 1673,
      > contained some observations on the stings of bees. His letters,
      > written in
      > Dutch, were translated into English or Latin and printed in the
      > Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and often reprinted
      > separately. All together he sent 190 papers to the Royal Society, to
      > which
      > he also donated 26 microscopes.
      > “Very little animalcules”
      > Leeuwenhoek made his most important discovery early in his scientific
      > career, in 1674, when he recognized the true nature of microorganisms. He
      > began to observe bacteria and protozoa, his "very little animalcules,"
      > which he was able to isolate from different sources, such as rainwater,
      > pond and well water, and the human mouth and intestine. Starting from the
      > assumption that life and motility are identical, he concluded that the
      > moving object that he saw through his microscope were little animals.
      > He recorded these observations in his diary, and two years later, in a
      > letter of October 9, 1676, communicated them to the Royal Society, where
      > they caused a sensation. Indeed, such was the disbelief of some of
      > fellows
      > of that body that Leeuwenhoek felt obliged to procure written
      > attestations
      > to the reliability of his observations from ministers, jurists, and
      > medical
      > men. Leeuwenhoek subsequently described, in about thirty letters to the
      > Royal Society, many specific forms of microorganisms, including bacteria,
      > protozoa, and rotifers, as well as his incidental discovery of ciliate
      > reproduction.
      > http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/1593.html
      > <http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/1593.html>
      > At 05:54 PM 5/11/2009 +0000, you wrote:
      > >Van Leeuwenhoek microscope takes £260,000
      > >08 May 2009
      > >HE had received only a basic education and spoke only Dutch, but Antoni
      > >van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) is today recognised as the greatest of the
      > >pioneering microscopists of the 17th century.
      > >
      > >Using his own simple instruments, it was Van Leeuwenhoek who first
      > >observed such wonders as muscle fibres, red blood corpuscles, bacteria,
      > >protozoa and spermatozoa ­ which he called "little men".
      > >
      > >Accounts vary as to his career path, but he seems to have worked as a
      > >surveyor, a beer and wine gauger, a minor civil servant and as an
      > >apprentice to a cloth merchant, where he learnt to examine fabrics
      > with a
      > >magnifying glass. At some point he was to learn how to grind and blow
      > >lenses and in 1671 had constructed the microscope that would open a way
      > >into the world of micro-organisms.
      > >
      > >It was relatively simple ­ two lenses held between riveted silver
      > plates ­
      > >but focusing was achieved by a screw mechanism.
      > >
      > >Given his lack of a formal education, his claims were at first dismissed
      > >as fanciful. However, a letter announcing his discoveries of animacules,
      > >or "little animals", living in rainwater, was eventually translated into
      > >English and published in the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions.
      > >He was elected a Fellow in 1680.
      > >
      > >Van Leeuwenhoek would present his microscopes to Queen Mary and to Peter
      > >the Great, and gave 26 silver examples to the Royal Society ­ all now
      > >lost. In all, he is thought to have made some 550 microscopes, mostly in
      > >brass, though very few seem to have survived.
      > >
      > >The appearance of a silver example in a mixed book, picture, print and
      > >scientific instrument sale at Christie's South Kensington on April 8 was
      > >thus a very special event.
      > >
      > >Just nine 17th century Van Leeuwenhoek microscopes are now recorded, and
      > >only three of them are in silver. One is in the Deutsches Museum in
      > >Munich, another in the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden, while the example at
      > >South Kensington was found in a box of laboratory impedimenta from the
      > >Zoological Department of Leiden University in 1978, when it was
      > purchased
      > >around that time by the vendor.
      > >
      > >Reproductions of Van Leeuwenhoek instruments were made in the 1880s (the
      > >example in the Carl Zeiss collections at Jena is believed to be a copy),
      > >but potential buyers at Christie's were reassured by the presence of two
      > >19th century Dutch sale marks, the earlier of which identifies it as
      > >having been sold at auction between 1814 and 1831. It is also thought to
      > >have been the microscope featured in an 1875 Harting exhibition
      > catalogue
      > >and the example recorded in the collection of the Dutch zoologist R.T.
      > >Maitland (1823-1904).
      > >
      > >Putting a value on such a rarity would have been difficult, but in
      > the end
      > >the saleroom suggested £70,000-100,000. It sold on the day for £260,000.
      > >
      > >By Ian McKay
      > >
      > >Link to story, with photo:
      > >http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/7137.aspx
      > <http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/7137.aspx>
      > >
      > >Auction House Description -- with set of 'zoomable' photos:
      > >http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5192744&sid=decfcf0c-6861-4885-932a-e53b03621b39
      > <http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5192744&sid=decfcf0c-6861-4885-932a-e53b03621b39>
      > >If link does not work:
      > >Sale 5808, Lot 88
      > >travel, science & natural history, 8 April 2009
      > >London, South Kensington
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >------------------------------------
      > >
      > >Yahoo! Groups Links
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >No virus found in this incoming message.
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      > >Version: 8.0.238 / Virus Database: 270.12.24/2108 - Release Date:
      > 05/11/09
      > >05:52:00
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