July 17, 2012

Sibu Tales : Pawn Shops

source : http://immobilenblasen.blogspot.com
Pawnshops are beginning to see a comback overseas. In times of economic downturn perhaps a sparkle of hope can be seen in the sluggish markets all over the world for pawnshops. Pawnshops help people who need cash instantly and cannot wait for papers to be signed.

Chinese word "Tang" for Pawn. In Sibu during the Pioneering days when there was no bank, the Foochows and other Chinese depended very much on pawn shops. Many of the pawn shop keepers became quite rich after a decade or two.

Entrance to a Pawn Shop.
In those  days pawn shops were a boon to the local populace because they came to help when no one else could help. It was too expensive to borrow money from anyone too. Besides many relatives were reluctant to give a loan.

A good friend of mine said that when she was young she heard stories of how the the local pawn shop owner saved many people especially when one of her uncles had little money to send his aged father for an operation. He had no money to pay for their air passage to Kuching. Her uncle and aunt pawned their watch and gold bracelet (both were farmers)to raise the money for the trip. Besides they had sold their rice harvest which was not enough. Later when their fruits could be harvested they were able to redeem their watch and gold bracelet. They had refused to sell their padi land. That was almost thirty years ago.

I remember many women also depended on the pawn shops because they could not raise the collateral to raise enough money to pay for something that they needed to buy. So it was very much a hush hush procedure. A cousin of mine finally let go of her gold watch to buy a much needed air ticket to KL in order to learn dress making. She did tell the pawn shop owner that she would not want to get her watch back. So she got a better sum of money since the pawn shop owner was very understanding.

In some places pawn shops are also second hand shops.

In the tv drama "Six Children" no one would fault the mother for pawning her sewing machine to raise just enough (500 won) to pay for the fees of her second son - to enter secondary school. Also using the pawn shop as part of the plot indicates how observant and correct the script writer was. It was typical of that period of time.

May be some people consider going to the pawn shops embarrassing. But I can assure you when times are hard pawn shops are the only source of help for some very desperate people.

Very interestingly the history of pawnbroking is very very old.

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 no different than today, through the ages strictly regulated by Imperial or other authorities.

In spite of early Roman Catholic Church prohibitions against charging interest on loans, there is some evidence that the Franciscans were permitted to begin the practice as an aid to the poor.[citation needed] In England, the pawnshop came in with William the Conqueror, with an Italian name, Lombard. In 1338, Edward III pawned his jewels to the Lombards to raise money for his war with France. King Henry V did much the same in 1415. The Lombards were not a popular class and Henry VII Tudor harried them a good deal. In the very first year of James I Stuart an Act against Brokers was passed and remained on the statute-book until Queen Victoria had been on the throne thirty-five years. It was aimed at the many counterfeit brokers in London. This type of broker was evidently regarded as a fence. It is also known that Queen Isabella of Spain pawned her jewelry in order to send Christopher Columbus out to what he believed was the Indies. source : Wikipedia®


Anonymous said...

yes I remember many of my poor relatives had at one time or another depended so much on the pawn shops in Miri town to help them tie over some bad periods of their life!!
Usually watches were pawned or a few gold rings. But they all managed to get back what they pawned. The pawn brokers were all fairly reasonable.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Justin
I also had a discussion with one of the cikgus who remembers that his parents and grandparents depended a lot on pawnshopkeeper in Marudi who helped them with loans very often. But they always could redeem their pawned goods .
Thanks for the input. See you around.

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