What does a horner do….?

A 19th century copy of a medieval style drinking horn, mounted on three silver claws with a finial in the form of a reptilian head.

In recent days I’ve been happily trawling my way through the Calendar of Patent Rolls concerned with the reign of Richard II, and came upon the 1389 entry below.

from here

My curiosity was pricked. What sort of horn did a horner deal with? The musical instrument? Animal horn? So I did a little investigation, and discovered that not only does the Worshipful Company of Horners still exist, but they are concerned with “the discarded horns of cattle and sheep to produce eating utensils, drinking horns, mugs,, buttons, combs, boxes, powder horns and of course, shoe horns”. They were first known in 1284.

We’ve all heard of the “big” guilds and livery companies, but I confess to not having come across the horners before. I have now.

A large decorative back comb in light coloured translucent horn, c. mid 19th century. This comb is decorated with a pierced and moulded design of trailing ivy leaves.

And as a postscript. Many drinking horns have legs, but the athletic Kavanagh Charter Horn looks a real goer! I’d lay odds on it any day!



  1. Back when my kids and I attended pre-1840 rendezvous events (celebrating American wilderness Mountain Man lifestyles), we learned about cutting and drilling shed deer antlers to make authentic buttons. Not that such experience would qualify ushornets guild-worthy horners.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It appears that the 19th Century silver mounted horn might have been intended as a gift for Baba Yaga!

    Liked by 1 person

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