The History of Pawnbroking

Before there were banks, pay-day loans, and ATMs, the age-old Pawnbrokers dominated the consumer credit market. Dating back to the Greek and Roman empires, Pawnbrokers provided the poor with a way of making ends meet. Today pawnbroking is as common as ever, with the practice expanding like many businesses into the online market.

In the west, pawnbroking existed in the Ancient Greek and Roman Empires. Most contemporary Western law on the subject is derived from the Roman jurisprudence. As the empire spread its culture, pawnbroking went with it. Likewise, in the East, the business model existed in China 3000 years ago[5] no different than today, through the ages strictly regulated by Imperial or other authorities.

— Pawnbroker. (2010). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia website. Retrieved 11:33, August 30, 2010, from



Television has taken advantage of the new-found popularity of reality tv, with several pawn shop-based shows appearing on various networks. PawnStars on History Channel is the newest of these series.

Long before banks, ATMS and check-cashing services, there were pawn shops. Pawning was the leading form of consumer credit in the United States until the 1950s, and pawn shops are still helping everyday people make ends meet. Pawn Stars takes you inside the colorful world of the pawn business. At the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop on the outskirts of Las Vegas, three generations of the Harrison family–grandfather Richard, son Rick and grandson Corey–jointly run the family business, and there’s clashing and camaraderie every step of the way. The three men use their sharp eyes and skills to assess the value of items from the commonplace to the truly historic, including a 16th-century samurai sword, a Super Bowl ring, a Picasso painting and a 17th-century stay of execution. It’s up to them to determine what’s real and what’s fake, as they reveal the often surprising answer to the questions on everyone’s mind, “What’s the story behind it”? and “What’s it worth?”

— The History Channel website. Retrieved 11:07, August 30, 2010, from