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MFA# 17.2195


Mute Cornett 171953.jpg

A hard, semitranslucent, proteinaceous structure that grows from the head of some mammals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, and antelope. Horn, like nails, claws, and hooves, is composed of epidermal cells known as Keratin. Rhinoceros horns are formed from matted Hair. The colours of horn range from a light cream to black. Horn can be cut, engraved, or carved, and has been used since ancient times for tools and ornamentation. The Thermoplastic material is softened with steam or boiling Water then pressed into numerous shapes. In the 18th century, London was the center of the horn molding industry, primarily making snuff boxes and decorative containers. The antlers of deer are not horns but rather fast growing bones.

Black rhinocerous

Synonyms and Related Terms

cuerno (Esp.); corne (Fr.); chiffre (Port.); Horn (Deut.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

Will swell slowly in water.

Resources and Citations

  • J.Thornton, "The Structure of Ivory and Ivory Substitutes", AIC Preprints, Philadelphia, 1981, p.173-181
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: F.Minney "Horn" p.763
  • F. Kidd, Brushmaking Materials, Bristish Brush Manufacturers, London, 1957 Comment: p. 142 on handles
  • Caring for your Collections, Arthur W Schulz (ed.), Harry N. Abrams, Inc. , New York, 1992
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981
  • Oppi Untracht, Jewelry Concepts and Technology, Doubleday & Co., Inc., New York City, 1985