History of National Pawnbrokers Day
The word ‘pawn’ comes from ‘patinum,’ the Latin word for ‘cloth’ or ‘clothing.’ Pawnbroking history goes back thousands of years to the ancient Roman and Greek empires and China in the East. Pawnbrokers provide cash loans in exchange for goods and property as collateral.
The pawnbroker returns the collateral after the person repays the loan with interest. If clients don’t pay up, they forfeit their property, and the pawnbroker can sell it to recoup the loan.
But pawnbrokers can also play the role of a charitable organization. In Perugia, Italy, a Franciscan friar, Barnaba Manassei, started the Monte di Pietà initiative in 1450. The movement offered financial aid to people, giving them no-interest loans for pawned items. The idea was to get people to make donations to the church as opposed to paying interest. The idea gained popularity in Italy and then spread to other regions in Europe. It might surprise you to know that musical instruments are among the most pawned items over the centuries. On Pawnbrokers Day, pawnbrokers often donate the forfeited instruments to schools or charitable organizations who need them, which allows children who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to these instruments the opportunity to use them. Talk about modern-day heroes!
But they weren’t always considered heroes. From 1603 until 1872, an act was passed against brokers that aimed to undermine counterfeit brokers throughout London. Brokers in this category were referred to as fences. In England, the Pawnbrokers Act of 1872 established regulations that protected pawnbrokers who unwittingly sold stolen items. It also established the interest rate on pawned items and general guidelines that define the industry to this day.
National Pawnbrokers Day timeline
Pawnbroking emerges in the Roman and Greek Empires as well as China.
King Edward III of England pawns his jewels to fund his war against France.
Barnaba Manassei starts the Monte di Pietà initiative in Italy.
The Pawnbrokers Act of 1872 establishes regulations to protect pawnbrokers who unknowingly sell stolen items.
National Pawnbrokers Day FAQs
Why does the pawnbroking symbol have three balls?
The traditional pawnshop sign has three gold balls hanging from a bar. Although the symbol’s origin is contested, most people believe it traces back to the Medici family of Florence, Italy. It is symbolic because it refers to the Lombardy region where pawnshop banking originated under the name ‘Lombard banking.’
What are the most pawned items?
People pawn all sorts of items at pawnshops, but these are among the most common:
- Gold and jewelry
- Guns (hunting rifles and pistols), and
- Musical instruments
How do pawnbrokers avoid selling stolen items?
Pawnbrokers mostly rely on repeat business from customers they know and trust. But they also note information such as serial numbers, markings on the item, and the general condition and collect the customer’s I.D. and other information.
National Pawnbrokers Day Activities
Research the profession
Pawnbroking has a storied past. Why not study the history of the profession to understand it better?
Use a pawnbroker’s services
Pawnbrokers are available everywhere and ready to make a deal.
Make a donation
Take a page out of the pawnbroking book and donate. You probably have lots of things lying around that you can give to the needy.
5 Facts About Pawnbroking That Will Blow Your Mind
Queen Isabella of Spain pawned her jewels to finance Christopher Columbus’ voyage to discover the Americas.
The modern pawnbroking industry originated in Italy during the 1400s.
A popular attraction
Pawnbroking boomed in the U.K. during the late 18; there were almost as many pawnbrokers as public houses.
Over 71% of customers remain loyal to the same pawnbroker, often one close to their home.
Most pawnshops enjoy repeat business from the same customers who pawn and reclaim the same item multiple times.
Why We Love National Pawnbrokers Day
We get to give back
We love a good cause and an opportunity to make a difference. Pawnbrokers Day reminds us of the importance of giving to the needy.
We get to appreciate their valuable service
Pawnbrokers provide an important service; one that the world probably can’t do without. This holiday allows us to recognize their contribution to our society.
They are here to stay
With over 11,000 pawnbrokers in the United States, pawnbroking makes a sizable contribution to the economy. The industry pulls in over $14.5 billion in revenue annually.
National Pawnbrokers Day dates