Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Horn-book.

 Horn, Horns.Horn-gate. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The alphabet - book, which was a thin board of oak about nine inches long and five or six wide, on which was printed the alphabet, the nine digits, and sometimes the Lord’s Prayer. It had a handle, and was covered in front with a sheet of thin horn to prevent its being soiled; the back-board was ornamented with a rude sketch of St. George and the Dragon. The board and its horn cover were held together by a narrow frame or border of brass. (See CRISSCROSS ROW.)   1
“Thee will I sing, in comely wainscoat bound,
And golden verge inclosing thee around;
The faithful horn before, from age to age
Preserving thy invulnerable page;
Behind, thy patron saint in armour shines,
With sword and lance to guard the sacred lines …
Th’ instructive handle’s at the bottom fixed,
Lest wrangling critics should pervert the text.”
Tickell: The Horn Book.
“Their books of stature small they took in hand
Which with pellucid horn securëd are,
To save from finger wet the letters fair.”
Shenstone: Schoolmistress.

 Horn, Horns.Horn-gate. 


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