History of Pawnbroking in London

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Lending money against your goods has been a practice in many ancient countries, such as China, ancient Greece and Europe. It helped many bank families of Italy gain dominance and was one of the first legislated industries in England. Indeed in the year 1695, the very first bank of England established “pawnshops” with a set rate of interest to help the poor, who at the time had no legal protections. It is not surprising, in a city that was the early home of fine jewellery, fashion and banking that it has always been a significant force.

Pawnbrokers Act of 1785:

This act licenced pawnbrokers to ensure they were known and abided by set rules.  The licence fee was  £10 pounds in London and £5 for the country, which at the time was a staggering sum. The interest rate was set at a low 0.5% a month and loans confined to one year. Also “brokers” could be fined, twice a items worth if they didn’t return it when payment was made.


Pawnbrokers Act, 1800:

Introduced by Lord Eldon, this proved popular with pawnbrokers, as it increased the interest they could charge to 1.5%, it also changed the licence fee to £15 which by this time was a decrease in price. This legislation was amended three times and finally replaced in 1872 by a new act. During this time, we see pawnbroking was used by many of the poor as their only means of getting a loan, and many of the loans written were of low value.

Pawnbrokers Act of 1872:

This act introduced many of the rules still in force today, and indeed, we see the basis of many basic consumer protections. It was a summary offence to write a loan for a person under the age of 12 years, or drunk. Goods to be sold at a public auction and the need of the licence holder to inscribe the words “pawnbroker” above the doorway of their shop.

Pawnbroking spread in popularity due to the industrial revolution, which created a new working class base, and remained popular until after the second world war.


Re-branding: The Posh Pawnbroker

The Pawnbroking business has changed and things for a London pawnbroker, could not be more different than they were in the Victorian era. While still heavily legislated, the main competition for the pawnbroker comes not from other shops, but of the variety of loans on offer. Payday lending, overdrafts, credit cards. There are many options for the consumer when it comes to a Fast cash loan. A business will no longer survive on doing low-value loans but instead needs to specialise.

London and the UK is the natural home of the posh pawnbroker. There is a strong tradition of fine jewellery, and luxury watches here and only in London is there a street like Hatton Garden, which is home to over 300 jewellery and diamond trading business and 55 shops.

As a result, a shop like Hopkins and Jones is well known amongst the jewellery trade and helps many traders access fast funds secured against their goods. If you have a ring from the Victorian era or a luxury watch and you’d like to see what you could lend against it, and even the repayments, please give us a visit or have a look at our loan repayment calculator on our website.

» History, The History of Pawnbroking » History of Pawnbroking in London
On June 25, 2019

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Hopkins & Jones Ltd is a trade member of The NPA (The National Pawnbrokers Association). Hopkins and Jones Limited, Company registration Number 433606. Registered Office, 7 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DW. Hopkins and Jones Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority licence No 6520002 for the provision of pawnbroking loans.
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