This wooden gingerbread mould is English and probably dates from the 17th or early 18th century. Gingerbread hornbooks gave children an added incentive for learning their alphabet. In the words of a rhyme written by J. Crane in 1835: 'The bakers to increase their trade, Made alphabets of gingerbread That folks might swallow what they read All the letters were digested Hateful ignorance detested' Breadcrumbs formed the main ingredient for gingerbread in the 17th century. It was pre-cooked and mixed with spices such as ginger, liquorice, aniseed and cinnamon. The mould gave the mixture shape. Gingerbread made in this way was not baked in an oven.