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Pawn Shop Trivia

1238 Suffering financial difficulties, Emperor Baldwin of Constantinople, the leader of ancient Byzantium, pawned a few great religious relics that he had access to ... the most notable being the Crown of Thorns. A Venetian broker handled this delicate contract, however, Saint Louis, the King of France, did not want the items in private hands. He took it upon himself to pay back the Venetian broker and retrieve the artifacts. (page 42).

1492 Christopher Columbus's voyage was not funded by Queen Isabella's gracious contribution of pawning her crown jewels (despite popular belief). Not that she wasn't willing to though. Her husband, King Ferdinand, had actually refused Columbus's offer three times. However, it was Louis Santangel, a friend and officer of the court, that gave Columbus the 2,500 crowns to fund the adventure. (pages 37-38).

1920 A savvy banker from Florida came up with a creative idea in order to extend the loans done on crops. The banker persuaded his farmer clients to borrow an extra $500 and use the money to puchase stock from a growing company called Coca-Cola. In turn, the banker would then keep the stock as collateral for that $500 loan. So who came out on top? Both the farmers and the banker. The farmers could have paid back that $500 and redeemed their Coca-Cola stock certificate (which would now be worth millions) or, by not paying back their loan, the banker would retain ownership the stock certificate. (page 40).

1937 Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of 36th United States President Lyndon B. Johnson, put up her inheritence to be used as collateral for a loan to finance her husband's special election campaign for US Congress. (page 41).

1943 Anna Mitchell-Hedges, the adopted daughter of Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges (finder of the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull), inherited the crystal skull when her father passed away. After his passing, she told of her father pawning the unique artifact to Sidney Burney for a loan to fund another one of his expeditions. Later, Sidney Burney still in possession of the skull, threatened Mitchell-Hedges to either pay back the loan or the skull will go up for auction, in which it did go into a Sotheby's auction, but then was later pulled. (page 41).

1992 M.S. Sidhu of India was a mechanical engineer who decided to branch out on his own. He pawned nearly all of his possessions, items like jewelry and even a motorbike to raise the capital he needed. Apara Enterprise Solutions is now one of the leading providers of UNIX services to semiconductor firms in India.(page 36).

Science In order to publicize a product and host a launch party, an entrepreneurial scientist from China pawned his house for $40,000. His product was a new medication for diabetes. (page 36).

Source: 2009. Krupnik, Steve. Pawnonomics. Cloud Ten, Inc.

Religion Pawnbrokers even have a patron saint. One who is synonomous with giving, compassion, generosity, and hope. That patron is Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus.

Source: 2013. Pawnbrokers Honor Patron Saint. St. Nicholas

International Not only are pawn shops popular in the United States, but they are also mainstream financial institutions in Mexico, Australia, China, and the United Kingdom. (page 4).

Past Pawnbrokers can be traced back at least 3,000 years to ancient China and even to Greece and Rome. (page 4).

Present There are approximately 12,000-13,000 pawn shops currently in the United States. (page 7).

Future Ancient history aside, pawnshops will continue to grow because ... the price of gold remains strong, consumer confidence and spending is up, the pawn industry's image in the media is positive, the pawn customer demographic is broadening. (page 8).

Source: 2012. NPA History Overview.

There has been debate on where three-ball symbol often seen on pawn shop signs actually came from ... One theory is from the Medici family crest, the famous Renaissance-era Italian family known for their banking practices. Another theory originates from a tale of St. Nicholas throwing three bags of gold into a penniless father's window in order to save his daughters from servitude.
    Oddest items ever pawned (anywhere)
  • Lamborghini sports cars
  • One-foot long, seventeenth century ornamental ivory phallus
  • Grandma's gold teeth from her urn
  • Live animals
  • Shrunken Heads
  • Prosthetic Limbs
  • Haunted Items