I'm going through old handwritten recipes from 1895 and found this symbol for a small weight that I can't figure out.

The recipe starts as follows:


Man nimmt dazu 4 Eier, 10 ?? Hefe,

1/4 ℔ Butter und viele Rosinen, einige

Mandeln und 2 ℔ Mehl, sowie Zucker

(I included a clearer version of the handwritten ℔/pfund symbol in the top corner)

The symbol I can't figure out is the one indicating the amount of yeast that is needed. Given that it's a recipe for 1 kg of flour I assume 10-20 g of yeast is the intended quantity and to me it looks like "10 ch Hefe" but I can't find any reasonable candidate for a weight measurement in the gram-range that would be shortened to ch.

I don't know if it matters but the book was written in or around Hamburg.


  • Randbemerkung: Dies ist eine der wenigen Transkriptionsfragen, die tatsächlich für andere Besucher nützlich sein könnte. Dec 3, 2023 at 0:08

2 Answers 2


Best hypothesis: it is an amount specification by value, since the Pfennig symbol (Wikipedia, especially the graphic Pfennigzeichen at the end of the article), looks very similar.

So the meaning would be

für 10 Pfennig Hefe

(which requires a quite stable price for the recipe to work).

  • 1
    As you note, this is an unreliable way to specify amounts, but it's not uncommon for old cookbooks. My wife's family had the 1926 and 1962 editions of "The [Australian] Common Sense Cookbook". Both of them feature the same soup recipe, both specifying "thruppence worth of beef bones" (3 pennies), even though a penny in 1962 bought about one-third what it would've bought in 1926. I'd guess people who used these books regularly got used to making necessary adjustments. Jul 21, 2023 at 0:55
  • Could be that prices have changed, but I remember seeing one cube of fresh yeast being the only product at a famous discounter for 0.09 EUR. Close to enough to 10 Pfennig and a suitable amount for 1 kg of flour, I believe. More on the subject: according to Wikipedia a Pfennig was also used a unit of weight. Jul 21, 2023 at 12:26
  • 2
    To cite Wikipedia. ₰-“Originalen oder gedruckten Texten, die das heute nicht mehr gebräuchliche Pfennigzeichen in der deutschen Kurrentschrift verwenden, wird es oftmals aufgrund der ähnlichen Form fälschlicherweise mit „ch“ transkribiert.” Also a bit of Googling hints at “10 pfennig hefe” being “the correct amount of yeast for 1 kg flour at your local baker”.
    – Spade
    Jul 24, 2023 at 11:54
  • Later in the same cook book I found lots of other ingredients using the same symbol eg. 20 ₰ Succade, 5 ₰ Rosenwasser, 5 ₰ Kardamon etc. I don't know if this is an argument for or against the theory above but since all of the ingredients are "small and/or exclusive" the money amount sort of makes sense and I guess it's sort of equivalent to "to taste" in some sense but more in the way of "take as much as you can afford"
    – Spade
    Jul 24, 2023 at 11:58
  • 1
    Also just a small note for someone coming here on a Mac using Safari. The font safari uses shows the "pfennig sign" as a stylised latin P followed by an f. Other fonts (and also the picture in the wiki article linked above) show something much closer to the thing in the photo in the original question.
    – Spade
    Jul 24, 2023 at 12:03

I support guidot's interpretation that the symbol

close-up of the symbol from the recipe in the question

stands for "Pfennig" as you can see here:

symbol for Pfennig

Concerning your guess "to me it looks like 10 ch Hefe" see here:

In der Edition von handschriftlichen Originalen oder gedruckten Texten, die das heute nicht mehr gebräuchliche Pfennigzeichen in der deutschen Kurrentschrift verwenden, wird es oftmals aufgrund der ähnlichen Form fälschlicherweise mit „ch“ transkribiert.

In the context of a baking recipe, however, "Pfennig" does not mean an amount of money, it is an outdated weight unit. Here you can see

  • Quint (Quent, Quentin, Quentchen) = 3,65 g = 4 Pfenniggewichte

Thus 1 Pfenniggewicht = 0,9125 g and 10 Pfenniggewichte = 9,125 g. But I doubt that 10 Pfenniggewichte is meant as such an exact weight. Moreover I guess that there have been regional differences. Anyway, I am convinced that people knew very well how much it was.

Also the the good old "Mark" was originally a weight unit. See here1 for a short survey.


  1. This source gives 1 Pfenniggewicht = 1,7 g.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.