19th Century Carved Bone Alphabet Letters Within a Ring Turned Treen Threaded Lid Box
This is a finely turned fruitwood or boxwood treen box with a threaded screw top, which opens revealing a full double alphabet of hand carved bone lettering which has survived from the middle of the nineteenth century. The double alphabet is 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. The early treen box is made of English fruitwood or boxwood, with a Mother of Pearl inlaid on top, standing 4 inches tall and 3 inches across, a precise threaded screw top and nicely proportioned to house the letters. The collection and the box are in fine antique condition, with a beautiful mellow patina to both bone and wood.
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. The little box might 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.
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.