hornbook, primer of a kind in use from the 15th to the 18th cent. On one side of a sheet of parchment or paper the matter to be learned was written or printed; over the sheet, for its protection, a transparent sheet of horn was placed; and the two were fastened to a thin board, which usually projected to form a handle, perforated so that the hornbook might be attached to a girdle. The matter printed or written included the alphabet in capitals and small letters and other material, varying in different hornbooks, such as numerals and the Lord's Prayer. Sometimes the base and handle were made of metal, stone, or ivory and had letters carved or cast on them.
See A. W. Tuer, History of the Hornbook (2 vol., 1896, repr. 1968).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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