Horn and hide

Instead of trusting a child with an expensive book, single page hornbooks were used from the 16th century to the late 19th century to teach children to read. Letters of the alphabet or religious materials such as the Lord's Prayer were written or printed onto vellum or paper.

The page was mounted on a paddle, usually made of wood, and covered by a thin sheet of cow or sheep horn to keep it clean. To make the horn covering, a horn was split, cleaned and boiled to uncurl it, before being pressed flat. Sometimes, sheets of the mineral mica were used rather than horn.


Extended captions