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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).

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References in periodicals archive ?
The paper equivalent to the horn-book is the battledore and is quite distinctly different in format to the British Battledore described above.
In 1959, Beulah Folmsbee, while working for the Horn Book Magazine, addressed some commonly posed questions about the origin of the magazine's name and the nature of hornbooks in her publication A Little History of the Horn-Book (8).
This sets a context for the horn-book and other alphabet books; that during the seventeenth century, children younger than five were expected to have learnt their alphabet, the syllabarium, the Lord's Prayer, and could read the New Testament proficiently, prior to commencement of structured lessons.