Scrimshaw Horn Book

1 in stock

I have spent too much time hunting for an antique horn book to add to my collection, but they are now fairly rare. To revive the tradition, I have got together with Lynn Walsh of History Craft to create a faux ivory version, and now this faux scrimshaw edition.

This faux scrimshaw horn book is hand crafted here in England to create a place for a piece of stitching or, in fact, anything you would like to frame. I designed and stitched this counted project during the COVID-19 pandemic and I think that the quote from Dr Martin Luther King could not be improved.

The horn book is supplied boxed with a chart, 28-count Cashel linen, pre-sorted threads, and instructions for the 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).


1 in stock

1 in stock


The story of this little treasure

‘Scrimshaw’ refers to the decoration of bone or ivory objects, such as whale’s teeth or walrus tusks, with fanciful designs. The designs, executed by fishermen, were carved with either a knife or a sail needle and then emphasized with black pigments, commonly lampblack. Examples date from the late 17th century, but the craft reached its peak during the years 1830–50. 

My faux Scrimshaw horn book was drawn by Ethan Danielson, who has even included a whaler in his illustration. He also added the white cliffs of Dover just for me. (My father was a Trinity House Pilot based in Dover.)

I did mention how rare horn books have become and to prove the point I recently saw a wooden mould for a gingerbread horn book (circa 1800) sold for £3.200 at auction. It did display a lesson I rather like:

A horn book gives of Ginger-bread,

And that the Child may learn the better,

As he can name, he eats the letter.

Proceeding thus with vast Delight,

He spells, & gnaws from left to right

                             Priors Poems