Jump to navigation Jump to search
MFA# 17.2195


Mute Cornett 171953.jpg

(anatomy) 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 colors of horn range from a light cream to brown 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
  • Semi-transparent to opaque
  • Fracture = uneven to splintery
  • Luster = resinous to vitreous
  • Fluorescence = variable
  • Birefringence = none
  • Inclusions = undulating and fibrous structures
Density 1.70 - 1.85 g/ml
Refractive index 1.560

Resources and Citations

  • J.Thornton, "The Structure of Ivory and Ivory Substitutes", AIC Preprints, Philadelphia, 1981, p.173-181
  • Gem Identification Lab Manual, Gemological Institute of America, 2016.
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: F.Minney "Horn" p.763
  • Wikipedia: Horn (anatomy) Accessed Dec 2022
  • 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