Pawn 101: The most common bad news

According to, the most common bad news answer that the Pawn Stars stars give to customers is:

 “The customer’s ‘Sterling Silver’ flatware is actually plated.”

At Kamaaina Loan, the most common answer the customer doesn’t want to hear is probably, “Not for me.”

And it probably applies more to tools or electronic equipment than to flatware.

The deal is, it doesn’t make sense for a pawnbroker to lend money on (or purchase) anything that doesn’t have a ready resale value. “Ready” is a relative term. For collectibles and art, a ready market might take years to develop.

For power tools, which we see a lot of, a ready market means turnover in weeks, or at most a few months.

For electronic equipment, stuff that still works perfectly might not be worth a dime — games and game players from a couple of years ago usually have very small value in the market, if any. Older cellphones are another item that depreciates fast because newer models keep pushing them into the background.

The market is what it is. We don’t do much in the fur coat line, because who on Maui would we sell a fur coat to? On the Mainland, the coat might do better.

Plated silverware is usually (but not always) practically worthless, because the film of silver is so thin. Underneath is scrap iron, worth a penny a pound.

But you have to check. There are a few (very few in the case of plated eating utensils) models that have collectible value.

Which is why the No. 1 all-time response we give to customers who call is, “Bring it in.”

Until we see it and handle it and examine it, we cannot put a value on it.

We can tell you what silver is worth — $30.82 cents an ounce in New York as this is typed, but that’s for Comex-deliverable silver, which is a strange beast of great purity. Sterling is silver mixed with other metals (for durability), so it is worth less.

But a silver dollar — even if it is a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar without any silver in it — it always worth a dollar.