Our Daily Bread

Here’s a curiosity, still on the theme of bread-baking, prompted by two coins found by the Troubadour in a thrift shop in Perth.

The first one (both sides shown below) has a picture of a wheatsheaf on one side with the date 1795 and the words ‘Bakers Halfpenny’ round the edge. The wording on the other side reads ‘To lessen the slavery of Sunday baking and provide for the public wants an Act was passed AD 1794’. As far as I can figure it out by online research, the 1794 Act was prompted by a desire to support observance of Sundays as ‘the Lord’s Day’, a day of rest – however, it seems, daily bread was still required, and so there was a certain leeway for bakers – they were allowed between 10am and 1pm only!

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The second coin, pictured below, is more of a puzzle to me:

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On one side there is a castle and a lion and on the other, in the middle, ‘Wilson’s Norwich 1839’. So I presume the castle and lion are the coat of arms of the city of Norwich. Round the edge of the coin are the words ‘Confectioners and Bakers’. When I look it up on the Internet I see lots of references to Wilsons of Norwich Bakers’ farthings – i.e. a quarter-penny, in this case from the 19th century – but I can’t see what it was used for. Was it just a commemorative token, or was it some kind of rationing device? Can anybody help with this?

Bread has been such a precious commodity down through the centuries and I’m wondering if my coins are some kind of poor relief. I can’t imagine how bad it would be to be rationed on such an essential item which I take completely for granted. Can anyone throw any light on how these coins were used? Or has anyone come across anything similar? Please advise!

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