Man cashes in 500lbs of pennies

Emma Woollacott
The 500lb of pennies
The 500lb of pennies

How much do you think 226kg of pennies is worth? Perhaps not as much as you'd think. A Texas man has deposited a round 500lbs of one-cent coins with his bank, and is only $816 better off as a result.

Ira Keys, 81, says he started keeping all his pennies at the age of 17 on the advice of his father. "He says, 'Whatever you do son, save your money,'" he told KCBD.

"Back when I started, in '52, I didn't have a lot of money, so I saved pennies and I just kept saving them."

And when the time came to cash the pennies in, he brought them in to the bank in coffee containers in the back of his pick-up truck: he says the weight "almost broke the springs".

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It took staff at the Prosperity Bank in Slaton almost an hour to count the pennies. But they may have to do it again: Keys says he's got plenty more at home, and plans to carry on collecting.

"It's just a habit I've got into, and habits are hard to break sometimes," he says, "but I don't think I'll have this many when I cash them in again."

He added that he's thinking of building a room divider and filling it with the shiniest coins he can find.

In this case, the bank was happy to accept the coins. More usually, though, paying with pennies is an act of protest. In 2008, for example, a woman paid a fine to Bromley Council in pennies - a massive 80,000 of them.

But, while pennies are of course legal tender, organisations don't necessarily have to accept them. In the UK, you can only insist on paying with pennies or 2p pieces for an amount below 20p. For 5p pieces, the maximum is £5 and for 50p pieces it's £10. Only if you're using pound coins can you pay any amount in coins.

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And, often, stores refuse to accept them. In 2012, a Hampshire woman was turned away from her local Asda store after trying to pay a £100 grocery bill in £2 coins - although the manager later apologised.

But in the same year, a care home manager was actually ordered by a judge to pay a total of £1,118.62 after he tried to settle an £804 debt to his accountant with five crates of coppers.

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