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Saturday, September 14 2019
Pawning Through The Ages: A History Of Pawn Shops

Since the dawn of time, people from every culture and country have occasionally found themselves a bit short on money. Fortunately, someone came up with a solution not too long after people first started needing fast cash - people could “pawn” their possessions as collateral for a quick and easy cash loan. Pawnbrokers hold onto the individual’s items, and in exchange, the borrower has a contractually-specified time period to pay the loan back plus interest. If they are unable to pay it back, the pawnbroker can take possession of the item and sell it to someone else.

Today, over 20 million people in the US visit one of the US’s 12,000+ pawn shops each year.

The Beginning of Pawn Shops

Rewinding 3,000 years, the first pawn shops emerged in Ancient China. They provided peasants a method of accessing short-term credit. At first, pawnbrokers didn’t operate as a shop; they ran their own independent operation. However, pawning soon came to be done mostly through pawn shops.

Moving over to Europe, pawnbroking exploded in popularity in ancient Greece and Rome. Many merchants pawned items in order to fund their new businesses.

As Europe entered the Medieval Age, the Catholic Church began to restrict pawn shops from charging interest for religious reasons. But the restriction wouldn’t last forever, as many began seeing the benefits of pawning in financing new business pursuits as well as helping the poor. It became so widespread that Queen Isabella of Spain allegedly funded Christopher Columbus’s expeditions by pawning her jewelry!

Leading up to and during the Industrial Age, clothing was the most valuable item for most of the working class. The working class almost always needed extra cash to pay the bills each week, so it became routine to pawn your clothes on Monday and retrieve them when you get paid on Friday, just in time to pay off the pawn loan.

We also see more regulation as we approach the modern age. Pawn shop borrowers tended to be poorer, which was correlated with more crime. That includes stealing items and pawning them. England combatted this with the Pawnbrokers Act of 1872, one of the first widespread pawn industry regulations in the modern era. This Act did a few major things:
Protect pawnbrokers from unknowingly accepting stolen goods
Set how much interest pawnbrokers can charge
Established several other guidelines for the industry

Pawn Shops Today

In just the last century, pawn shops have spread all over the United States. In the earlier part of the 20th century, during the Great Depression, banks were failing left and right. This left people in desperate need of cash with little option but to pawn their items, making the best of a terrible situation. Nowadays, you can find a pawn shop in basically any city or town. They serve not only as a banking alternative to those without a ban account, but also as a place for almost anyone to buy and sell rare and interesting items.

Still, they haven’t lost their connection to history. Antiques, jewelry, and other old but well-preserved items are highly sought after by most pawn shops. Some people try to make up stories about how valuable their items are, but pawn shops have become adept at sniffing out fakers.

If you have some rare or valuable item and you’re in need of some quick cash, why not bring it on down to Cash Express?

Posted by: AT 03:03 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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