I recently found an old recipe dating from (we think) the mid 19th century. It states to, "grate a stale tuppenny loaf".

How much is that? Pounds, ounces, kilograms -- I haven't been able to find a weight that I can use, and none of my older relatives know.

Location could be Cornwall, but that's based purely on where my family came from, rather than any knowledge or certainty

Does anybody on here know?

  • What are the other recipe ingredients, and the intended result? Knowing the approximate proportions may help you work backwards to figure out how large a loaf it should be :)
    – Erica
    Dec 11, 2020 at 3:03

2 Answers 2


Depends when.


The price directly related to the cost of the wheat so would have fluctuated over time, and even where the bread was sold.

There were also several types of loaf. I think this would typically refer to white bread, the most expensive.

This is from 1765 in London

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I'd say around 'one pound', but it's massively variable and not really answerable without much more context.

  • 1
    Thanks for that. Your google-fu is much better than mine. The best I can do is "probably mid 19th century", so say 1850s. Location [i]could[/i] be Cornwall, but that's based purely on where my family came from, rather than any knowledge or certainty.
    – Fredd
    Dec 5, 2020 at 11:55
  • 2
    there are quite a few references in books around 1850s-1870s to a penny loaf being 8 to 10 oz. So I'd say anywhere 16-20 oz.
    – thelawnet
    Dec 5, 2020 at 12:00
  • 2
    also 15oz here in 1889 books.google.com.my/…
    – thelawnet
    Dec 5, 2020 at 12:20

Assuming that a ‘two penny loaf’ is the same as a ‘tuppenny loaf’, it likely depends on the time and place, for example, in Dartford Prison in 1788 it was 19 ounces:

allowance, a two penny loaf a day (weight 19 ounces) Source

But in 1774 at Norwich Castle county gaol it had been 20 ounces (source).

In April 1766 the ‘Assize of Bread in and throughout the County of Leicester’ a two penny wheaten loaf was set down as 1lb 5oz, or 21 oz. (source)

Shrinkflation isn’t new.

In the children’s game of leapfrog, according to wiktionary, to ‘tuck in your tuppenny’ is to tuck in your head ‘perhaps named from a tuppenny loaf’. From which we might assume that a tuppenny loaf is head-sized, or child’s head sized, or that it was a rhyming slang for ‘tuppenny bread’ rather than loaf.

In 1728, according to Eliza Smith's The Compleat Housewife it was the amount of bread upon which, thinly sliced, you might spread a pound of butter. (Source)

So somewhere just over half a kilo or about the size of a head, depending.

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