Where Did Pawnbroking Come From?

Posted by admin on September 19, 2019

Very few who walk into a pawnshop know of the origins of pawnbroking. Like banks, they’re very much a normal part of life, a staple of every high street in Britain and across the world. But where did the idea of pawnbroking come from? 

Today, we explore the surprisingly ancient beginnings of pawnbroking and how it has evolved into the sort of pawnbroking that we’re familiar with today. 

Ancient Origins 

The earliest known pawnbrokers goes as far back as Ancient Greek and Roman times. Most pawnbrokers of that time were professional or semi-professional and operated from their own shops. The main difference in Roman times in particular is that you could only walk into a pawnshop if you were wearing the right apparel. 

During the 5th century China, Bhuddist monks would set up shop outside their temples and lend money to the poor. Over the years, they would become much more widespread until some investors decided to take advantage of the tax-free nature of monasteries and establish themselves among them. 

The Modern Era

Pawnbroking as we know it today came mostly from Jews and the Lombard people of Italy. It had spread over most of medieval Europe but had failed to take root in Britain. While the Norman conquest brought pawnbrokers with them, many subsequent andanti-semitic laws banned them and cultivated a culture of distrust of the trade. 

Things turned around in the 19th century once the Pawnbrokers Act was passed into law by Lord Eldon. Interest rates for pawnbrokers increased in their favour, allowing them to operate with a license fee. Further amendments to the law were made and now pawnbrokers are not only much freer than they used to be, but it’s almost impossible to imagine an average high street without one. 

Pawnbroking Today

In the 21st century, pawnbrokers are everywhere and are seen as a legitimate method of procuring a short term loan. While the market has faced a lot of ups and downs, the practise has endured and is still going strong to this day. 

We at Cuttings have certainly endured, having originally set up shop all the way back in 1880. If you’re in the market for a short term loan, visit our store in Ramsgate today or see what we lend against on our website. 


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