RARE SILVER AND IVORY HORNBOOK WITH THE SWINBURNE FAMILY CREST
(HORNBOOK). Silver and ivory hornbook with original red ribbon. No place, 1814. Measures 2-1/2 by 4 inches. Housed in custom box. $12,500.
Rare silver and ivory hornbook with the boar crest of the Swinburne family engraved on the handle, with a London 1814 hallmark.
The hornbook was "a form of ABC book common in England from the 16th to the 18th centuries. [The few continental examples known to exist were probably destined for English schoolchildren.] The alphabet, with other printed matter that the child was to learn, was printed on a piece of paper which was then mounted on a tablet of wood with a projecting handle. In order to protect the lettering, a thin sheet of translucent horn was fixed over the paper by means of narrow edging strips of brass held in place by small nails. The whole usually measured some 3-1/2 by 2-1/2 inches, excluding the handle" (Carpenter & Pritchard, 260). Eventually, the horn-book evolved in the 19th century to become the battledore, usually printed on stiff paper card stock.
The present exceptionally rare and unusual hornbook differs in that the alphabet has been engraved on silver, rather than printed on paper and then overlaid with translucent horn. On the front of this hornbook an ivory frame encloses a silver inlay upon which the alphabet is engraved in capital and lowercase letters. The back is composed of intersecting lines forming a pattern of squares, possibly for use as a game board. With the bookplate of Elizabeth Willetts Lambert (laid in); old typed dealer description laid in as well.
Small age cracks with no loss of ivory. Box with hinge repair. An extremely handsome hornbook with an unusual Swinburne association, rare and desirable.