Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek: Bio, Dutch Businessman & Awards

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek, a largely self-taught man in science, was a Dutch businessman and scientist in the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology. 

Van Leeuwenhoek is well known for his pioneering work in microscopy and, his remarkable contributions toward the establishment of microbiology as a scientific discipline hasn’t gone unnoticed.

This Dutch scientist, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft, the Netherland, on October 24, 1632 to Margriet Jacobsdochter van den Berch and Philips Thooniszoon. Both of his parents were middle-class artisans.

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek
Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek

The doctrine of spontaneous generation got refuted by his research on lower animals, and the observation done by him helped lay foundations in the sciences of bacteriology and protozoology.

The first detailed description of protists and bacteria living in a range of environments was given in Leeuwenhoek’s 1677 paper, the famous ‘letter on the protozoa.’ 

The conversational, diaristic style conceals the workings of a startlingly original experimental mind. When the resolution and clarity of his microscopes could not match later scientists, the doubt or even dismissal of his discoveries began to surface over the following centuries, limiting their direct influence on biology’s history.

But with a resolution of less than 1 µm, the twentieth-century work confirmed Leeuwenhoek’s discovery of bacterial cells.

Quick Facts of Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek

Full Name

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek

Nick Name

The Father of Microbiology

Birth Date

October 24, 1632

Age of Death

90 years old



Birth Place

Delft, Netherlands

Father’s Name

Philips Antonisz van Leeuwenhoek

Mother’s Name

Margaretha Bel van den Berch


Neeltje van Leeuwenhoek

Margriet van Leeuwenhoek

Geertruyt van Leeuwenhoek

Catharina van Leeuwenhoek


Microscope of Anton van Leeuwenhoek


Margrieta Leeuwenhoek

Maria van Leeuwenhoek

Philips Leeuwenhoek


Dutch Reformed






Fellow of the Royal Society


The Select Works of Antony Van Leeuwenhoek

The Collected Letters of Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek

Opera omnia Antonie van Leeuwenhoek


Did not receive University Education


Inventor, Physicist, Biologist, Instrument Maker

Marital Status



Barbara de Mey

Net Worth

$1 Million – $5 Million

Social Media


Early Life of Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek

Leeuwenhoek, son of a basket-marker father while his mother’s families were brewers, was baptized as Thonis on fourth-November.

Antony lost his biological father at a very young age. His mother later married a painter named Jacob Jansz Molijn. When his stepfather died in 1648, he was sent to Amsterdam to become an apprentice to a linen-draper.

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Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was an unlikely scientist. He never receives any formal education or university degrees, and other than his native Dutch, he knew no languages. In that contemporary society, this would have been enough to exclude him from the scientific community.

Yet with an endless curiosity, hard work, diligence, and an open mind free of the scientific dogma of his day, he succeeded in making some of the most important discoveries in the history of biology.


Antoni attended grammar school in Warmond. After the demise of his stepfather, he temporarily moved to Benthuizen to live with relatives. Without a doubt, he was an intelligent and curious young man virtually unaware of other scientific research as he never formally attends any university or received an education. 

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek Research and Education
Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek Research and Education

As a result, sometimes he re-investigated the topics and phenomena already studied. Much of his work is very independent of others’ theories and ideas, which is contrary to most of the scientists of his time.

Scientific peers and friends such as Regnier de Graaf and Constantijn Huygens assist him, but translated works are what he heavily relied on.

Age of Leeuwenhoek

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was born on twenty-four October 1632. He left the earth side at the age of 90. Tallness and the weight of the famous Inventor Antonie are not accessible at present. 

Research and Inventions of Leeuwenhoek

The principal researcher actually record minuscule perceptions of muscle filaments, microbes, spermatozoa, and bloodstream in vessels was none other than Leeuwenhoek.

Discover or observe, describe, study, conduct scientific experiments with microscopic organisms (microbes) was undisputedly first done by him, and using his own designed single-lensed microscopes, he relatively determines their size.

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He constructed more than 500 optical lenses. At least 25 single-lens microscopes of different types have been created by him, of which only nine have been able to survive. Microscopes were made out of silver or copper frames. Those microscopes that managed to survive had the capability of magnification up to 275 times. 

The suspect that he possessed some microscopes that could magnify up to 500 times was made. Philips scientific research was of remarkably high quality despite being widely regarded as a dilettante or amateur.

He freely shared the resulting observation with groups such as the British Royal Society while studying a broad range of microscopic phenomena. Such a magnificent work firmly established him as one of the first and most important explorers of the microscopic world in the historical timeline. Much like Robert Hooke, Van Leeuwenhoek was one of the first people to observe cells.

The main discoveries by Van Leeuwenhoek are:

  1. in 1674, infusoria (protists in modern zoological classification).
  2. in 1683, bacteria (e.g., large Selenomonads from the human mouth).
  3. the vacuole of the cell
  4. in 1677, spermatozoa in 1677
  5. in 1682, the banded pattern of muscular fibers.

Philips reported his research on the coffee bean in 1687. He saw a spongy interior when he roasted the bean, cut it into slices. Oil appeared when he pressed the bean. 

Career of Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek

Before he went to live in Benthuizen with his uncle, he attended school in Warmond. Philips became a bookkeeper’s apprentice at a linen-draper’s shop in Amsterdam at the age of 16. After six years, he left. Throughout 1650 he ran a draper’s shop that he opened himself.

Throughout the years, his status in Delft had grown. He received a lucrative job in 1660 as a chamberlain for the assembly chamber of the Delft sheriffs in the city hall. By the court of Holland, he was appointed as a land surveyor in 1669

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He is the official “wine-gauger” of Delft and in charge of the city wine imports and taxation, sometimes combined his land surveyor job with another municipal job. In 1673, to the Royal Society, he reported his first observations – bee mouthparts and stings, a human louse, and a fungus. 

Van Leeuwenhoek was the man who observes bacteria for the first time in 1676. He observed water closely and was surprised to see tiny organisms. When his letter announcing this discovery caused widespread doubt at the Royal Society, Robert Hooke later repeated the experiment to confirm Leeuwenhoek’s discoveries.

Van Leeuwenhoek Research and Learning
Van Leeuwenhoek Research and Learning

In 1680, he became a member of the society and continued his association for the rest of his life by correspondence. He laid the foundations of plant anatomy and became an expert on animal reproduction. 

Leeuwenhoek studied the structure of wood and crystal as well as discovered blood cells and microscopic nematodes. He considered the discovery of sperm done by him as one of the most important discoveries of his career. 

Coming to the novel conclusion in which fertilization occurred when the spermatozoa penetrated the egg. He described the spermatozoa from mollusks, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals.

Personal Life 

He fathered one surviving daughter named Maria (four other children died in infancy) when Van Leeuwenhoek married Barbara de Mey in July 1654. His wife died in 1666. Van Leeuwenhoek remarried Cornelia Swalmius in 1671, with whom he had no children. He faced the demise of his second wife in 1694.

Also Check: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Early Life, Career, Legacy And Death>>

Net Income

In 2019-2020, Leeuwenhoek’s total assets were developing fundamentally. Preceding the demise, he is an inventor who has total assets of $1 Million – $5 Million. Being a fruitful Inventor is generally his pay source. 

Achievements and Awards

Renowned scientist of the seventeenth century named Antoni van Leeuwenhoek whose pioneering research works laid the founding stone for the emergence of microbiology as a stream is addressed as the ‘Father of Microbiology.‘ By mere coincidence and immense hard work, this talented biologist chanced upon scientific research. 

He established his own linen business being a young entrepreneur. He devised a new technique of creating a lens that can provide magnification up to 500 times while he was in search of a high-quality magnifying lens, to be used for inspection of thread used in the linen.

His contribution to the scientific world was honored by the Royal Society of London by granting him a fellowship.

Death of Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek

Pioneering scientist Leeuwenhoek breathed his last breath on twenty-six August 1723. He battled a rare abnormality of the muscles in the midriff region. As he made extensive observations regarding his illness, the condition has been named ‘Van Leeuwenhoek’s Disease.’

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The Royal Society of London archived his original specimens. To expand Leeuwenhoek’s original works, microscopist Brian J. Ford conducted a further study in 1981.

Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture

At first, the Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture’s main motive was to award scientists by recognizing excellence in the field of microbiology. It also includes excellence in bacteriology, virology, mycology, parasitology, and microscopy. The lectureship is in honor of the 17th- and 18th-century microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek.

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) established ‘The Leeuwenhoek Medal’ in 1877. The Royal Dutch Society for Microbiology (KNVM) has been awarding the Leeuwenhoek Medal since 2015.

Legacy and recognition

Approximately 560 letters concerning his observations and discoveries were written by Van Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society and other scientific institutions. He continued to send letters full of observations to London even during the last weeks of his life. 

Nick Lane, the British biochemist, wrote that Antoni was “the first even to think of looking—certainly, the first with the power to see.” He was “a scientist of the highest caliber” attacked by people who envied him or “scorned his unschooled origins,” not helped by his secrecy about his methods. His experiments were ingenious.

In Amsterdam, the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital specialized in oncology, is named after van Leeuwenhoek. He was named the 4th-greatest Dutchman of all time according to the public poll in the Netherlands, which is to determine the greatest Duchman (“De Grootste Nederlander”).

On 24 October 2016, the 384th anniversary of his birth, Google commemorated a Doodle that depicted his discovery of “little animals” or animalcules, now known as bacteria.

Many awards are in the title after him: The Leeuwenhoek Medal, Leeuwenhoek Lecture, Leeuwenhoek (crater), Leeuwenhoeckia, Levenhookia (a genus in the family Stylidiaceae), and Leeuwenhoekiella (an aerobic bacterial genus).

Antoni Philips Van Leeuwenhoek Quotes

  • Whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.
  • A man comes not from an egg but from an animalcule that is found in male sperm.
  • A man has always to be busy with his thoughts if anything is to be accomplished.
  • In rainwater, I observed a small redworm and two other kinds of very minute insects; of those of the larger size, I judged that 30,000 together would not equal coarse sand.
  • I must confess… I don’t know any tongue but the Nether-Dutch.
  • Just as the supposed number may differ from the true number by fully 100, 150, or even 200 in a flock of 600 sheep, so may I be even more out of my reckoning in the case of these very little animalcules.
  • How inscrutable and incomprehensible are the hidden works of Nature!


1. Who is Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek?

Ans: Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch microscopist who was the first to observe bacteria and protozoa.

2. What is Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek famous for?

Ans: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is famour for his single-lens microscopes, which he made the first observations of bacteria and protozoa. His extensive analysis on the growth of small animals such as fleas, mussels, and eels helped disprove the theory of spontaneous generation of life.

3. How did Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek died?

Ans: Van Leeuwenhoek suffered from uncontrollable contractions of the diaphram, a condition now known as Van Leeuwenhoek disease. He died of the disease, also called diaphragmatic flutter, on August 30, 1723, in Delft.

 4. When did Antonie Leeuwenhoek born?

Ans: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was born on October 24, 1632, Delft, Netherlands.

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