Leeuwenhoek, Anthoni van. Arcana naturæ, ope & beneficio exquisitissimorum microsopiorum. Detecta, variisque experimentis demonstrata, una cum discursu & uteriori dilucidatione; epistolis suis ad...philosophorum collegium datis, comprehensa, ab.... Lugduni Batavorum: Apud Cornelum Boutestein, 1708. 4to. (21.5 cm; 8.5").  ff., 64, 232 pp., pp. 231–58,  leaves of plates (4 fold.) [bound with his] Continuatio epistolarum, datarum ad longe celeberrimam Regiam Societatem Londinensem ab.... Lugduni Batavorum: Apud Cornelum Boutestein, 1689. 4to (21.5 cm; 8.5").  ff., 124 pp., 9 plts. (2 fold.)
In a celebrated series of letters to the Royal Society of London Leeuwenhoek detailed his world-changing experiments using the power of a microscope to reveal the previously unknown world of microstructures and microorganisms. This volume contains two compilations of some of those letters. Here the Arcana naturae is a reprint of the Anatomia seu interiora rerum (first edition, 1687), not the Arcana naturae detecta, as cited in Dobell, and contains letters 43, 42, 38, 28–31, 34–36, 46, 47, 44, 45, and 48–52. The Continuatio epistolarum, here in its first edition, contains letters 93–107. In all the letters in these two volumes span the period 1678 to 28 November 1687.
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While Leeuwenhoek is most famous for his revelations concerning blood’s corpuscles, and his discovery of spermatazoa and protozoa, capillaries, etc., his work also had an important scientific aspect for Americanists. Letter 107, the final one in the Continuatio epistolarum, reveals the insect nature of cochineal. Others will find his work on cannabis worthwhile.
Provenance: 18th-century armorial bookplate of Thomas Arnold, M.D.; 20th-century signature of Kenneth Thimann, the noted botanist and winner of the Balzan Prize.
I: Dobell 25b; II: Dobell 24 (not calling for any plates and saying the pagination is “unnumbered”!). Contemporary quarter white sheep, apparently later stained red, the red stain having faded or been absorbed irregularly; spine yet later covered with brown paper, remnants of that adhering irregularly. Paste boards covered with strips of contemporary marbled paper. Uncut copies of both works, some portions unopened. One plate loose but present. Another plate present in two copies. A good+ copy.
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