History of Pawn Shops | Edmonton

You might not know it, but pawn brokering is one of the world’s oldest professions. Many ancient cultures from Greece to Rome had set rules and regulations for pawn brokers. Even the Mosaic Law in the Torah has rules laid out for pawn broking. Pope Leo X was a notorious pawn shop customer for his frequent pawning of palace furniture and silver to cover the costs of play tickets. He was also the pope when the Catholic Church gave the official okay for pawn shops to operate.

In Canada, our first laws regarding pawn brokering appeared in 1886 with the Federal Pawnbrokers Act. The act still exists today, with additional rules and regulations about pawn shops laid out by provincial governments.

Pawn Shops around the World

China – Pawnshops existed in China as far back at the 5th century and were run out of Buddist monasteries. Occasionally wealthy entrepreneurs would form partnerships with these monasteries and help run the pawnshops.

Italy – Ancient Roman law allowed pawn shops, however items such as clothing and furniture were restricted from being pawned. In addition the Catholic Church mandated that all interest rates charged to poor people be reasonable.

England – Originally forbidden from charging interest, pawn shops in England survived on funds from the state. When that idea eventually failed many different iterations of pawn shops were tried until the government settled on allowed the shops to charge a yearly interest rate of 20%, or 1.6% a month.

America – Modern pawn shops are widespread across the United States with the average store charging 4% interest per month for a period of 4 months.

Russia – Pawn shops in Russia are only allowed to sell gold, silver and other precious metals and gems.

Canada – Pawn shops have been around in Canada for a long time. They are required to hold an item for a set amount of time which is regulated by the provincial government and will be agreed upon by the seller and pawn broker. You must also be over 18 to sell something at a pawn shop in Alberta.

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This was a great establishment! Very clean! Staff were extremely helpful and friendly. If I ever need a pawn shop again, this is the place I will go.

- Suzanne
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