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Gift of
Brian and Darlene Heidtke

A Silver Alphabet Hornbook

Prior to the eighteenth century, the notion that children were anything other than small versions of adults was a foreign concept. Books designed for small hands and young minds are a relatively recent innovation. Early children's literature was often didactic, full of worldly lessons and moral stricture. But the means of introducing children to the world of letters and words prompted fascinating objects. The hornbook was developed as the device to drill young students in the alphabet. Often a small handheld wooden piece with printed or incised with letters and numbers cover by a transparent sheet of horn, the hornbook served as a young child's aid in memorizing the ABC's. This luxurious example of a child's simple learning tool, is a silver sheet incised with the alphabet, complete with all twenty-six letters and two diphthongs (both upper and lower case) and ten numerals. The extravagant use of silver, the ivory frame, and the floral decoration suggest that this was the property of a well-placed child.

 

 

 

 

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