Hendrik Hen, 1770-1819

by Brian Stevenson
last updated June, 2015

Hendrik Hen manufactured optical and scientific instruments in Amsterdam, Netherlands, beginning about 1800. His shop was located at 35 Kalverstraat.

In addition to his own instruments, Hen retailed Abraham Ypelaar’s prepared microscope specimens. A translation of an advertisement placed in the Amsterdamsche Courant on October 7, 1809, "All kinds of microscopic objects made by A. Ypelaar & Comp., and awarded a silver medal at the exhibition held in the name of the King of Holland, can be obtained from their factory on the Muiderdijk outside the Muiderpoort, also by commission from H. Hen instrument maker in the Kalverstraat no. 35 in Amsterdam”.

Figure 1. Two microscopes by Hendrik Hen. Pieter Harting, in his 1850 ‘Het Mikroskoop’, wrote that Hen introduced this model in 1807, described as being based on Benjamin Martin’s new universal microscope. Both are located in the Boorhaave Museum, Leiden. Images are adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from http://www.museumboerhaave.nl/object/samengestelde-microscoop-v09746/


Figure 2. Another Hen microscope of the same pattern as those shown in Figure 1. In this picture, the standard Bonanni-type stage has been replaced with a open framework designed for studying live animals such as frogs or fish. Adapted from an internet antique sale site, for nonprofit, educational purposes.


Figure 3. The microscope shown in Figure 2, with its Bonanni stage. Also shown is a lamp and focusing device, also by Hen. Adapted from an internet antique sale site, for nonprofit, educational purposes.


Figure 4. The Hen microscope and accessories shown in Figures 2 and 3, in their original case. Adapted from an internet antique sale site, for nonprofit, educational purposes.



Fournier, Marian (2003) “Hendrik Hen (1770-1819) had a workshop in Amsterdam from about 1800 and was renowned for his solar and other microscopes. He was friendly with the maker of microscopic preparations, Abraham Ypelaar, whose specimens were for sale in Hen’s workshop. Hen also retailed instruments from other makers. His widow continued the business after his death”, Early Microscopes: A Descriptive Catalogue, page 284

Harting, Pieter (1850) Het Mikroskoop, Deszelfs Gebruik, Geschiedenis en Tegenwoordige Toestand, Van Paddenburg & Co., Utrecht, pages 161, 323, 326, and 381

Rooseboom, Maria (1940) Some notes upon the life and work of certain netherlands artificers of microscopic preparations at the end of the XVIIIth century and the beginning of the XIXth, Janus, Vol. 44, pages 24-44


Examples of Hendrik Hen’s work:

Boorhaave Museum, http://www.museumboerhaave.nl/object/samengestelde-microscoop-v09746/

van Leest Antiques (microscope has been sold), http://www.vanleestantiques.com/product/h-hen-microscope-c-1800/

In addition, The Billings Microscope Collection, Second Edition (1974) Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC, page 192, describes an H. Hen microscope, but does not include a picture. The description indicates that it is similar to the microscopes shown above in Figures 1-4.