Long ago, when the world was new, there was a new concept called pawning. It was in the opposite of the east. The art of pawnbroking too place in the old Roman and Greek Empires. A majority of current laws on this matter are taken from the Romans. As their influence overtook cultures, so did the pawn. Similarly in other areas, this business dates back to over 3000 years. The finer details may be different, but many aspects remain the same as they did long ago.
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Regardless of the early church’s ban on interest (for loans), there is supporting documentations that some were allowed to do this to help out the famished. In the north, England, William made it popular. He was a Conqueror of sorts and he would pawn off his valuables to raise money for the war (Edward III). Other kings did the same as well, including King Henry V and King Henry VII.
For more: read the in-depth history of pawn establishments.
A while back, before time, there was an Act instituted that attacked fakes and cheats. It was aimed at the shady people called fences. In fact, many people do not know, but it helped the to discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. The only reason he was able to raise enough finances to sail was because Spain’s Queen (Isabella) pawned off jewelry for the voyage, including her own.
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Pawn shops and those who run them can also be extremely charitable. For example, back in Italy there was a man who would give out no interest loans in exchange for donations for the church. Lets not get ahead of our selves however, as most current pawn institutions do not operate like this. Most of them run like normal businesses do, trying to operate at a profit. They are not there to hand out money to religious institutions (at least not publicly).
As such, a pawn broker will try to calculate a perfect cost to make both the store and the customer relatively happy. It all revolves around what type of agreement is reached by both parties, and who negotiates more effectively.
For more, read this helpful article.