Pawn shops will consider a loan on anything of value (unless, as we say, it eats), but fashions have pushed some items out of our universe.
For example, in 1838 Manhattan pawnbroker was happy to make a loan on 8 collars. He lent 37 1/2 cents.
Kamaaina Loan doesn’t make loans in fractions of a cent any more, or even fractions of a dollar, but in 1838 37 1/2 was close to a day’s pay for some laborers.
Writing in Bloomberg News, pawn historian Wendy Woloson listed the loans made on a typical day, Aug. 31, in Simpson’s shop.
The full list is available at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-09/a-brief-history-of-the-american-pawn-shop-echoes.html
Today, we’d take the accordian, the watch (although the “silver watch with broken hands” would be a close call), the broach, the saw (usually a power saw these days), the gold watch and chain and the silver medal.
It would have to be a special table cloth these days at get our assent.As in 1838, most pawns are for small amounts, and most pawns are for jewelry or household items. But these days household items are more like to be TVs and video games than shawls and trousers.
The goods change over the generations but the business is mostly what it was long ago. As Woloson says,
Yesterday’s music box is today’s DVD player.