Faux Ivory Horn Book

3 in stock

Inspired by the horn books seen in museums, many of which dated from the 15th century, they were often referred to as a child’s primer and would be covered in letters, prayers or moral sayings. This faux bone or ivory artefact is hand crafted to create a place for a piece of stitching or in fact anything you would like to frame. For those of you who are stitchers, I am sure that displaying some lying down will be a change as I am sure you will have no wall-space left. The horn book can, of course, be hung using the stick-on hooks used for hanging plates (not supplied).

The horn book is supplied boxed with a chart, 36-count Newcastle linen, pre-sorted threads and instructions for the little sampler seen in the picture. Overall size, including the handle, is 7 x 10in (18 x 25.5cm). The frame area is 5 x 6in (13 x 15cm).


3 in stock

3 in stock


The story of this little treasure

Being a devoted reader of Jane Eyre (my favourite book of all time!), I have been fascinated by the idea of large groups of children doing their lessons on a slate, or earlier on a horn book. I suspect this is all mixed up with the idea of the orphanage samplers – all rather wistful really.

Horn books were widely used by children from the 15th to 18th century and have been found in the UK and in the USA. Not a book at all, they were made from wood, horn and even ivory although rarely. Sometimes the wood or background material was engraved with letters or wood covered with a printed alphabet page. A very fine, transparent slice of a cow’s horn was nailed over the page to preserve the paper, making horn books a practical and sturdy tool.

Looking at Tudor horn books, the alphabet letters were not as we know them now – the letters ‘i’ and ‘j’ were the same as well as ‘u’ and ‘v’. Many horn books also included the Lord’s Prayer, as religion was a significant part of a child’s life and learning.