Pawn 101: Check under the hood

Here’s a story that every pawn shop operator can give

personal testimony about.

A man brought us a book to see what it was worth.

It was volume 2 of a 2-volume edition of one of

Charles Darwin’s books. Ordinarily, volume 2 is

worth more than volume 1, because 2’s tend to get lost

more often. In this case, however, and on Maui, the

book was virtually worthless.

That’s because a complete set, in excellent condition,

can be had on the Internet for about $50. Given

shipping costs from Maui, and considering how

unlikely it would be to find a volume 1 here; and that

it’s a heavy book, it would cost more to marry volume 2

 up with a volume 1 on the Mainland than it’s worth.

However, while the owner was talking about where he

got the book, our assistant was flipping pages. “It’s

worth at least $20,” he told the owner.

Because someone had stuck a $20 Silver Certificate

between the pages.

At last August’s pawnbrokers’ convention, a Mainland

broker told about how a good customer whose husband

had died brought him a fancy hunting knife, hoping

she could get $300 to pay bills.

“I looked under the cotton in the knife box and there

were four one-hundred dollar bills.”