History of Pawnbroking

In the west, pawnbroking existed in the Ancient Greek and Roman Empires. Most contemporary Western law on the subject is derived from the Roman jurisprudence. As the empire spread its culture, pawnbroking went with it. Likewise, in the East, the business model existed in China 3000 years ago no different than today, through the ages strictly regulated by Imperial or other authorities.

In spite of early Roman Catholic Church prohibitions against charging interest on loans, there is some evidence that the Franciscans were permitted to begin the practice as an aid to the poor. In England, the pawnshop came in with William the Conqueror, with an Italian name, Lombard. In 1338, Edward III pawned his jewels to the Lombards to raise money for his war with France. King Henry V did much the same in 1415. The Lombards were not a popular class and Henry VII Tudor harried them a good deal. In the very first year of James I Stuart an Act against Brokers was passed and remained on the statute-book until Queen Victoria had been on the throne thirty-five years. It was aimed at the many counterfeit brokers in London. This type of broker was evidently regarded as a fence. It is also known that Queen Isabella of Spain pawned her jewelry in order to send Christopher Columbus out to what he believed was the Indies.

A pawnbroker can also be a charity. The Monte de Piedad movement began in Perugia, Italy in 1450 with the Orden de Menores Observantes de San Francisco. It had the aim of providing financial assistance to people in the form of no-interest loans, secured with pawned items. Instead of interest, borrowers were urged to make donations to the Church. It spread first through Italy then in other parts of Europe. The first Monte de Piedad organization in Spain was founded in Madrid, and from there the idea was transferred to New Spain by Pedro Romero de Terreros, the Count of Santa Maria de Regla and Knight of Calatrava. The Nacional Monte de Piedad is a charitable institution and pawn shop whose main office is located just off the Zocalo, or main plaza of Mexico City. It was established between 1774 and 1777 by Pedro Romero de Terreros as part of a movement to provide interest-free or low-interest loans to the poor. It was recognized as a national charity in 1927 by the Mexican government. Today it is a fast-growing institution with over 152 branches all over Mexico and with plans to open a branch in every Mexican city.

How we see it today at Shuswap Pawn…

In more modern times our experience has taught us that many communities in large cities and small towns have relied upon the services provided by pawn stores, during both good times and bad. A surprising fact to most is that in a successful business up to 85% of the clientele return for their item(s), or that less than one half of 1% annually is reported as stolen merchandise. The other benefit is the considerable difference on used merchandise 35 to 65% less than retail for items ranging from Jewelry to Tools.

We look at several factors while evaluating the collateral we loan on. We look at age, condition, re sale factors and our client’s success rate with us can play a factor in added assistance if it’s needed. People are often surprised to learn we buy your goods from time to time as well. Seasons, stock levels and market condition will occasionally affect our buying habits.

The retail experience is something we hope to improve upon as well. Our modern “with a twist of nostalgia” highlights a well lit interior with an ever changing array of stock.