The interior of a store.

A Brief History of Pawning

Pawning in some form has been around as long as temporary loans have existed. Some say the practice as we know it dates back to Greek and Roman times or even further back to Buddhist monasteries. Others only discover this handy service when they find a local pawn shop and take a peek inside.

It is impossible to say precisely when the basics of pawning – leaving a valuable with a broker as collateral for a loan – officially began. Wherever trading and lending took place, pawning was likely right behind. But if you’re thinking of pawning a belonging of your own or on the hunt for interesting and unique products, learning a little about the industry’s past and present might help you feel more comfortable using this popular neighborhood service

There Is a Long History of Pawning Around the World

The National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) describes a popular legend about the practice’s origins, or at least the image most often associated with it: “The pawn symbol, which is three spheres suspended from a bar, traces back to the Medici family – a prominent family in Florence, Italy in the 15th century, known for loaning and banking. The Medici family crest features the symbol of the three balls because a member of the Medici family was supposedly working for Emperor Charles the Great and killed a giant with three bags of rocks. The Medici’s were so well known as a finance family that other lenders and people in the finance business adopted similar coats of arms featuring the three golden balls.”

And that is just the history of a symbol still in use today. Suffice it to say, there are countless tales about pawning in the past that connect it to everything from brokered land holdings to charitable “interest-free or low-interest loans.” 

More Recent Pawning Practices in the U.S.

Fast forward a few hundred years and the general purpose of pawning hasn’t changed much. The practice has existed in the U.S. since the early days of Southwestern trading posts. Today, Fullerton Pawners in Chicago is one of roughly 11,000 pawn shops operating in the U.S. One tradition that continues from the olden days: the typical pawnbroker is still a small neighborhood business. Contrary to common misconceptions, the industry is regulated by many laws and statutes, and the businesses benefit people who need a small amount of money to cover immediate expenses ranging from auto repairs to medical care. 

NPA notes a few other key pieces of information about the industry:

  1. Pawning regulations in this country date back to 1892.
  2. A 2017 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report stated “pawns do not harm consumers, are not confusing, and do not put consumers in a cycle of debt.”
  3. “States individually license and supervise pawnbrokers, strictly governing loan terms including duration, fees and interest.”

Fullerton Pawners on Chicago’s North Side Is Trusted to Provide Small Loans 

It’s good to know that after so many iterations, pawnbrokers are expected to comply with numerous regulations aimed in large part at protecting consumers. But, as with any industry, not all shops are as reliable as they could be, which is why it is so important to work with a well-established known entity in your community. 

Nowadays at Fullerton Pawners, we are widely trusted to do so much more than handle loans. That is certainly a crucial part of our enterprise, but we also provide many other helpful services:

  • Make Cash Purchases
  • Evaluate Products
  • Repair Valuable Merchandise
  • Sell Diamonds, Jewelry, and Many Other Valuable Items 

Contact Fullerton online, call us at 773-637-9999 for more information, or stop by to check us out in person!

Various dollar bills on a surface.

Pawning in the New Year: How Do Loans Work at Pawn Shops?

When an unforeseen event in your life requires an immediate payment to be resolved, pawn shops can be a great source of financial assistance. They’re especially helpful for people who don’t have access to other means of acquiring fast cash – but won’t have a problem paying the loan back within a few months or so. While the amounts tend to be minimal, they are often sufficient to cover minor but urgent expenses.

Common terms that show up in loan agreements include:

  • Cash amount borrowed
  • Pledged item as collateral
  • Interest rates
  • Prepayment
  • Payment due date
  • Other financial terms

The Benefits of Pawn Shop Loans

There are other sources of loans – namely, large banking institutions. But they have loan requirements that not everyone qualifies for, nor has the time to fill out paperwork and then wait to find out. They may want to know:

  1. Personal financial information
  2. Credit score/report
  3. Social security number
  4. Other details, depending on type of loan

It can take weeks for someone to get back to you with a response. And when you need money soon, you may prefer not to waste time if there’s a good chance you’ll be turned down. 

How Do Pawn Shop Loans Work?

To be considered for a loan, all you have to do is visit the pawner with an item of value you want to temporarily trade in as collateral for a small cash loan. Jewelry, gemstones, watches and electronics are common forms of loan collateral. One option is to sell the item outright. But with a loan you can get your property back as long as you pay back the loan per the terms of the agreement. 

These are the basic steps of a pawn shop loan:

  1. Bring in your item
  2. Resale value of item is determined
  3. Pawner gives you an offer
  4. You agree to terms in writing
  5. You pay back the loan and get your property back

Be sure you understand and have fully considered your payment deadline, as well as any interest included in your agreement. The loan amount will likely be a percentage of the resale value of your belonging. For example, if your watch is valued at $100 and they only lend up to 60% of the resale value, you might be offered a $60 loan. 

Redeeming the Loan: The Leveraged Item Still Belongs to You

Before paying back the loan, the item typically still belongs to you as long as you’re meeting the terms of your agreement. Once you’re able you may redeem your debt by paying back the loan, which may include interest or a fee on top of the loan amount. 

What Happens If You Can’t Pay Back Your Loan?

Each loan agreement should be considered individually, as the terms may vary, even at the same location. That said, if you can’t pay off your loan, the pledged item no longer belongs to you. Generally, the pawner can sell it on or after an agreed-upon date in your contract. 

If there is a possibility you won’t be able to pay back your loan on time, you may risk being charged interest rates and even storage fees, which is why it’s so important to be aware of the terms, as well as the potential risks, of any loan agreement.

Get a Loan at Fullerton Pawners, Chicago’s Safe & Reputable Full-Service Pawnbroker 

At family-owned Fullerton Pawners, we believe in transparency and are more than happy to explain how our loan services work. This is one of the reasons we’ve developed such a solid reputation in the more than three decades we’ve been providing loans and other services on Chicago’s north side. 

Among our many available services, we handle:

  • Cash Loans on the Spot
  • Free Loan Appraisals
  • Cash Purchases
  • Sales of Wide Range of Items

Contact Fullerton Pawners online, or call us at 773-637-9999 to discuss taking out your next loan.

Illinois Pawn Association National Pawnbrokers Association Chicago Jewelers' Association IWJG
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