Pawning dates back to the earliest times known to man. There are references to pawning in biblical times right on through the ages in China, ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe and later the United States. Pawning is an ancient practice that has been looked upon both negatively and favorably at different periods in time.
Whether you look upon pawning as something to be avoided or as a valuable service to society, it clearly has its place in society. The actual practice has changed some throughout the history of Pawn Broking, but it has withstood the fall of civilizations and the test of time.
In ancient biblical times, we know pawning existed because it was referenced in Mosaic law. This law forbade the taking of interest from a poor borrower. Jews and Christians were both forbidden from this practice with a few exceptions. Jews were allowed to make loans to gentiles. In the Christian church, there is evidence that the Franciscans were allowed to engage in pawning during the early years of the church. After the Protestant Reformation, Christians were allowed to lend to others at interest.
In China, pawn shops date back to 2000 to 3000 years ago. The business is heavily regulated, but still exists today. In Greece and Rome, pawning was a very common practice. In Medieval Europe, the pledge system developed in Italy and spread across Europe. This practice evolved into the pawning that was common across Europe and eventually, the United States as European settlers came to the new world.
Today, people use pawn shops as a valuable resource for loans as well as for buying and selling items. Pawn shops offer an interesting variety of goods for sale and are a great place to find unique treasures. There is a lot of rich history behind the pawn shops of today.
While it may seem like a modern practice, pawning has likely been around since the dawn of the first civilizations. Stop by your local pawn shop and ask about its history. You might be surprised at the stories you’ll hear when you take the time to talk with people at pawn shops. They may have a rich history in your area.