One of the oldest professions in the world is pawnbroking. Lending money against portable security has always helped to back commerce and create a system of lending that supports people in tough times.
The practice began as an aid to the poor and has sustained societies around the world for over a thousand years. So, what are some astonishing facts about this type of brokerage?
Check out these four interesting ones.
#1) America Was Founded on Pawned Jewels
That’s right. Before Christopher Columbus set out to discover the New World in 1492, Queen Isabella of Spain funded the journey by pawning some of her crown jewels to raise capital for the trip.
It is said that King Ferdinand gifted her a pearl and ruby necklace on their wedding night that fetched quite the pretty penny. The Santa Hermandad police organization also reaped the benefits of pawning and used the funds to build the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa María that would cross the Atlantic to discover America.
#2) Collateral Lenders
Think high-end pawn shops. These types of businesses typically cater to the wealthy, cash-poor clientele who may need an influx of capital, in a short amount of time. In this case, these type of “shops” are more about collateral lending, than selling.
People will typically visit a pawn shop like these when they are in need of starting a business or to make payroll during a lean month. The concept here is that the property is almost always released back to the borrower once they get their finances straight.
#3) Pop Goes the Weasel
This timeless kids’ song is cockney British slang for pawning a coat. Dating back to the mid-19th century, there have been dozens of lyrics written but they all end with the popular chorus “Pop goes the weasel.” As this stanza indicates:
Up and down the City Road
In and out the Eagle
That’s the way the money goes
Pop! goes the weasel.
The “Eagle” refers to London’s historic pub and the “weasel” refers to a coat. So, popping the weasel was a slang term for pawning your coat after a night of heavy imbibement.
#4) The Most Pawned Item
With pawning being a thousand-year-old industry, it should come as no surprise that patterns emerge. Although most pawn shops will take anything of value, there are a few specific items that always seem to appear at the counter. But, it’s not your radio! Although electronics can be a popular item to hawk, they generally have disappointing returns.
The majority of items that are brought into a pawn shop are jewelry. Precious gems, gold, silver, and other metals fetch the highest prices and thus see their way through the door the most often. A proper pawnbroker is always conscious of the fluctuating metals market and will typically know what they are talking about.
Pawn shops are to be revered, not feared. They help keep an economy running by creating a system of borrowing and collateral that can see people through tough times. Pawnbroking has been around as long as humans could trade and it’s a great way to help guide your economic success when you may be out of options.