The Hobson’s Choice Crowdfunder

As I was observing the election count at the Cambridge Guildhall recently, peering down at us from the wall of the Large Hall was this portrait of Thomas Hobson:


Hobson was a Cambridge-based carrier, best known as the origin of the phrase “Hobson’s choice”, from his policy of hiring out horses in strict rotation, offering customers “either this one, or none at all”. He was also responsible for the building of Hobson’s Conduit in 1614, bringing clean drinking water into Cambridge.

The portrait is in a pretty poor state, and for the last few weeks a Crowdfunder appeal has been underway to raise £10,000 for a restoration. Here’s a look at how it’s going.

The appeal is running for eight weeks, so to raise the £10,000 it needs to bring in about £175 per day. We’re six weeks in now, and there have been 140 contributions so far (the website shows 120 backers, but contributions raised off the site are all listed as “hobson”). Here’s a graph showing how much has been raised each day:


As you can see, less than £175 has been raised on most days, but there have been quite a few days that have brought in a good deal more. However, the second and third weeks of the project brought in the biggest contributions, and less money has been raised recently. Is the project going to achieve its target? Let’s have a look at the cumulative total:


The black line here shows the daily target that must be reached to raise the £10,000 by the end of the appeal; the red line shows the total amount raised. As you can see, things started a little slowly, but after three weeks the project was in a fairly healthy state, with the red line a fair way above the target level. However, since then the red line has been creeping perilously close to the target level, and looks in danger of falling below it before the end of the project.

I think this is a great project for a Crowdfunder, and I’d love to see it get fully funded. Thomas Hobson is an important part of Cambridge’s cultural heritage, and it seems only right to raise funds to restore his portrait by public subscription. If you’d like to help the project, you can do so at

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