of the times - modern pawnbrokers are booming|
It was between
the wars that pawnbroking was most popular, with thousands of shops throughout
Workers would often pawn their smart clothes on a Monday and
buy them back for the weekend after they got paid on Friday.
and building societies are everywhere, but what if you dont have a bank
account or cant get credit and you need to get hold of some cash in a hurry?
Then you might well visit the pawnbrokers.
Borrowing cash from a pawnbroker
is more expensive than from a bank - the interest charged can be as much as 20
Pawnbrokers have been around for centuries - its the worlds
second oldest profession.
Pawning goods dates back at least 3,000 years
to ancient China.
During the 1960s demand for pawnbroking dropped and the
industry had a very hard time, but this all changed in 1974 when the Credit Consumer
Act simplified pawnbroking and made it a more attractive business.
then the industry has blossomed,and today business is booming again.
David Carver has been in the pawnbroking business for
the last 15 years and owns a number of shops around East Anglia:
are the peoples bank, were a lender of last resort. People come here
when they cant get money anywhere else. We provide a service. If they couldnt
get money from us, what would they do, resort to crime, steal
describes how a modern pawnbrokers works:
"You can have
either a one month or a six month pawn. At the end of that time a customer can
buy back his goods. Obviously have to pay interest on top of that, which is around
10 per cent.
"If he cant afford to do that and still wants
to hold onto the goods, he can pay a monthly charge until he has the amount to
buy them back. Of course at the end of the agreed time he can just walk away,
in which case the pawnbroker now owns the goods. The contracts are regulated by
law and you have to get a licence to be a pawnbroker
everything thats pawned gets bought back, anything not claimed gets put
back over 3,000 years to the Chinese. It is also thought to have existed in the
ancient Greek and Roman Empires.
The word pawn comes from the
Latin pignus, meaning pledge.
Christopher Columbus voyage
was funded mainly by the proceeds from pawning Queen Isabella of Spains
The industry today can be traced back to 15th Century.
The Medici family was an important financial power, but when the family was split
in two, one half became bankers and the other, pawnbrokers.
group of Medicis borrowed half the family crest, featuring the now well-known
sign of the pawnbroker - three gold balls.
Late 19th Century
and early 20th Century Britain boasted almost as many pawnbrokers as public houses.
They lent money on anything from bed linen and cutlery to clothing.
recent boom in the industrys fortunes came during the 1980s credit
Bobby Kemp, who is 25-years-old, first visited
a pawnbroking shop when he was just 16 - hes been a regular visitor ever
Bobby has been out of work for the last three years - he and his
partner get income support of £220, plus another £50 for child benefit.
Theyre careful with money, but at times it can be hard.
says, "Im in the pawnbrokers quite a lot. I pawn gold mainly... useful
if you're skint.
"Benefits are not enough, so I'm happy to pawn stuff.
I just use it to tide me over until the next lot of Benefit.
know youre going to get it back and the service is cheap. I dont feel
like Im being exploited."
Bobby often pawns his gold chain to
carry him over weeks when finances are stretched.
"I think its
a cheap way of borrowing money. My mum gave me this chain, but its in the
pawnshop more than round my neck.
"Ill pawn my gold chain for
£20 and itll cost me £324 to get it back
many people like Bobby, the modern pawnbroker provides an invaluable and essential
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