19th Century Carved Bone Alphabet Letters Within a Treen Threaded Lid Box ABC - image 1 of 15

Carved Bone Alphabet Letters Within a Ring Turned Treen Threaded Lid Box

This is an early turned fruitwood or boxwood treen box with a threaded inset screw top, opening to reveal two complete alphabets of hand carved bone lettering - 26 letters in green, 26 letters in red -- which have survived from the middle of the nineteenth century.

The alphabets are complete and hand carved from ox bone or cow bone, 52 perfectly formed tiny carved letters in all. Each letter stands about 5/8-inches tall; each is individually hand cut with irregularities and flaws as expected. The early treen box is made of English fruitwood or boxwood, standing 2-3/8 inches tall with engine turned bands around the perimeter, a precise threaded screw top, all nicely proportioned to house the letters. The collection of letters and the box are in good overall antique condition, with a beautiful mellow patina to both bone and wood. The box top has an old chip, the body has a tight crack and a tiny gouge. The lid fits just right, screws/unscrews flawlessly.

Alphabet tiles or carved cut outs like these were used, along with hornbooks, to give children the first educational building blocks of the English language in the early Victorian period. Made for learning and amusement, as many early games and puzzles with an underlying educational motive. This little box could have been carried in the tutor’s apron for a dual purpose: a spontaneous spelling lesson and for a noisemaking rattle to get an unruly child’s attention. The letters and box are clearly defined and beautifully crafted with just the grainy imperfections one would expect to find in ox bone and wood.

Wonderfully tactile, uniquely collectable and imaginatively decorative. A nice example of an early teaching tool, a perfect gift for your favorite teacher or student, these folk art carved letters and treen carved box.

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Childhood Antiques

19th Century Carved Bone Alphabet Letters Within a Treen Threaded Lid Box ABC

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    since 2005

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