Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek (1635-1723) was a Dutch tradesman who became interested in microscopy while on a visit to London in 1666. Returning home, he began making simple microscopes of the sort that Robert Hooke had described in his, Micrographia, and using them to discover objects invisible to the naked eye.
In 1886, John Mayall, a prominent English microscopist, made drawings of an original Leeuwenhoek microscope that belonged to the Zoological Laboratories at the University of Utrecht, and that a Dutch professor had brought to London. Replicas followed soon thereafter. The Smithsonian’s example is a replica of a Mayall replica. It is marked “COPIE / LEIDEN.”
Ref: J. Mayall, “Leeuwenhoek’s Microscopes,” Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society 6 (1886): 1047-1049.
J. van Zuylen, “The Microscopes of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek,” Journal of Microscopy 121 (1981): 309-328.
Currently not on view
Object Name
overall: 3 in x 1 1/4 in x 1 1/8 in; 7.62 cm x 3.175 cm x 2.8575 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Rijksmuseum voor de Geschiedenis

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.