PENCE STERLING 

48-hour intervention with100,000 pennies

and a disused public fountain

2018

Quayside, Cambridge

Commissioned by Other Ways for In Your Way

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At 8:00 on the morning of Saturday, September 8th, 2018, one-hundred-thousand pennies were deposited in a disused public fountain owned by Magdalene College at Quayside, Cambridge, UK, where they were to sit for 48 hours.  Any coins found in the fountain at 8:00am the following Monday morning were to be donated to the Cambridge-based charity Wintercomfort for the Homeless.

 

What happened to the pennies over the weekend?

By 11:00pm of the first evening, all 100,000 of the pennies had been removed and the fountain lights had been vandalised. Witnesses describe a 3-hour-long systematic effort led by 3 men with buckets and bicycles, during which they carried off all 356kg of pennies to an unknown location.  

Over the remaining hours of the intervention, people continued to visit the fountain, expecting to find it full of pennies. Upon seeing it barren and broken, many added their own coins to its empty body. Over the course of the day, most of these coins were removed, too.

 

At 8:00 on the morning of September 10th, a total of £1.66 (and €0.02) was collected from the fountain and promptly donated to Wintercomfort. 

Several weeks after the intervention, on hearing rumours of the penny incident, police contacted Anna while they were following up on a report filed on evening of September 8th.  The report had been made by the manager of a Sainsbury's near Quayside, who at the time, was concerned about a group of 3 men who were repeatedly returning to the store with buckets full of pennies to use the Coinstar machine.

 

Anna declined to file a theft report, ensuring the police that, in her opinion, no theft had taken place. 

Tabloid news of the penny incident went viral, spanning the globe in a matter of days. Afterward is a digital archive of international media coverage from China, Turkey, Vietnam, Croatia, Spain, Italy, Poland, Taiwan, Mexico, the Netherlands, India, America, Israel, Macau, Cambodia, and the United Kingdom.