Farewell Antoni

"Lens on Leeuwenhoek"

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Centraal, the blog,  is now officially retired. I began this site originally because I was disappointed that Holland, and the town of Delft, in particular, had made no concrete attempt to recognize van Leeuwenhoek and his impact on early science. As far as I know, this has not changed. However, with the proliferation of blogs and websites, I can rest assured that at least in the digital world, Leeuwenhoek will not be forgotten.

Particularly, there is one website that has excelled in the life and times of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. I want to encourage all visitors to this blog to visit the excellent Lens on Leeuwenhoek site: it is by far the best resource for all things Leeuwenhoek. And please, look to the sidebar here for many more links to fascinating history of science sites.

I have not stopped blogging entirely. I will be opening a photography website soon, and I have just launched a new site called Splendor Awaits, which will reveal my primary interests: bugs and macro photography. Eventually, I hope to continue my  fascination with the history of science at Splendor Awaits, particularly in regards to the history of entomology. No doubt Leeuwenhoek will be part of my life again then!

Goodbye, and please visit me at my new site.

England Plundered Holland’s Glory

Lisa Jardine, author of Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland’s Glory, has won McGill University’s Cundill prize:

Going Dutch
Going Dutch

Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland’s Glory (Harper), the remarkable story of the relationship between the Dutch Republic and Britain, two of 17th Century Europe’s most important colonial powers, has earned British historian Lisa Jardine the 2009 Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University.

In this wide-ranging book, Jardine masterfully assembles new research in political and social history, together with the histories of art, music, gardening and science, to show how Dutch tolerance, resourcefulness and commercial acumen had effectively conquered Britain long before the Glorious Revolution of 1688 that overthrew King James II of England. Above all, Jardine tests the traditional view that the rise of England as a world power took place at the expense of the Dutch, finding instead that it was a “handing off” of the baton of cultural and intellectual supremacy to a Britain then expanding in international power and influence.

Read the full news story at the McGill Newsroom.

See the short list for the prize, with brief synopses of the books, author bio’s and cover pic’s here.

And read this review in The Guardian.

Leeuwenhoek Microscope to be Auctioned

24 Oranges, an English language blog on all things Dutch, is reporting that one of Leeuwenhoek’s microscopes is to be auctioned at Christies. The microscope (Lot 88, Sale 5808)  is to be sold at the London, South Kensington salesroom and is described as:

A highly important Dutch silver microscope
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), circa 1690
The lens held between two riveted silver plates; stage with rounded step design, specimen pin and focusing screw; main screw with rounded handle, with angle bracket and securing screw. Marked with an incuse
3, and two later Dutch sale marks (for the periods 1813-1893 and 1814-1831).
dimensions of plates 39 x 22mm.

The silver Leeuwenhoek microscope.
The silver Leeuwenhoek microscope.

The origins of this microscope are said to be:

Found in 1978 among a box of laboratory impedimenta from the Zoological Department of Leiden University and purchased by the present owner.
Believed to be no. 62 in the 1875 exhibition catalogue by Harting, and from the collection of the Dutch zoologist R.T. Maitland (1823-1904).
Bought at an unknown auction between 1814 and 1831.

Read the complete description and background here.

The auction date is 8 April 2009 and the price range is expected to be between $102,340 – $146,200.

Will a Dutch National treasure be lost?

Perhaps Delft should purchase this as the basis for a much needed Leeuwenhoek Museum!

(Image from Christies. Original news source for the 24 Oranges article is in the Dutch newspaper,  De Telegraaf.)


…are done for now. Four new Golden Age scientists have been added to the tabbed pages above: Isaac Beeckman (1588 – 1637), an early physicist; Herman Boerhaave (1668 – 1738) a botanist and physician; Willem Jacob ’s Gravesande (1688-1742) a scientific generalist who was quite renowned in his time and Simon Stevin (1548 – 1620), another generalist who had an interest in music, mathematics, engineering, optics, astronomy and geography. Most of these are from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Digital Library of History of Science and Scholarship in The Netherlands.

To properly display the greater amount of pages, I have adopted a new design. It is not a perfect solution, but the best I could find among WordPress’s templates. I would have preferred a three column design but there seemed to be many problems with the widgets and with limitations on what could be shown in which column, so I gave up on them. I would also like to see pages open up with blank tabs, so that more sub-pages could be added, but this also does not seem possible. But my search for solutions also inadvertently lead me to find the correct method to place a donation button in the side-bar, something which I could not achieve before.

So more scientists and more links to dig up! As usual comments and suggestions are always appreciated.