Jag minns hur min kompis Anna och jag köpte tulpaner till vår favoritlärare, en alldeles vanlig vardag — då fick man en hel bukett för några kronor.
Och jag börja fundera på hur det där tänkespråket lyder om att man i första hand ska köpa sig en blomma, och har man sedan pengar över kan man kosta på sig en brödbit. SÅ galen i blommor är jag inte, men visst är det trevligt med en bukett, även om jag nog hellre köper böcker än blommor.
Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev
Det var först när jag räknade mina tulpaner som jag kom in på brödspåret — tio tulpaner stod det att det skulle vara i min bukett, men det var elva, varför jag kom att tänka på "a baker's dozen". Varför det heter så, slog jag upp för flera år sedan — men tror någon att jag minns allt jag läste då — det var bara att bege sig ut på nätet igen.
Firstly, the practice appears to have originated several centuries before the phrase. England has a long history of regulation of trade; bakers were regulated by a trade guild called The Worshipful Company of Bakers, which dates back to at least the reign of Henry II (1154-89). The law that caused bakers to be so wary was the Assize of Bread and Ale. In 1266, Henry III revived an ancient statute that regulated the price of bread according to the price of wheat. Bakers or brewers who gave short measure could be fined, pilloried or flogged, as in 1477 when the Chronicle of London reported that a baker called John Mund[e]w was 'schryved [forced to admit his guilt] upon the pyllory' for selling bread that was underweight.
Secondly, it's not quite so neat an explanation that whenever bakers sold twelve loaves they then added another identical loaf to make thirteen. They would have had just as much concern when selling eleven loaves, but there's no baker's eleven. Remember that the Assize regulated weight not number. What the bakers were doing whenever they sold bread in any quantity was adding something extra to make sure the total weight wasn't short. The addition was called the 'in-bread' or 'vantage loaf'. When selling in quantity to middlemen or wholesalers they would add an extra loaf or two. When selling single loaves to individuals they would offer a small extra piece of bread. The Worshipful Company still exists and reports that this carried on within living memory and that a small 'in-bread' was often given with each loaf.
So, that's the practice, what about the phrase? That goes back to at least 1599, as in this odd quotation from John Cooke's Tu Quoque:
"Mine's a baker's dozen: Master Bubble, tell your money."
The phrase is related to the practice described in John Goodwin's A Being Filled with the Spirit, referring back to a quotation from 1665:
"As that which we call the in-bread is given into the dozen, there is nothing properly paid or given for it, but only for the dozen."