THROWBACK THURSDAY: History of Pawnbrokering

pawn broker signFew institutions exist for 400 years. And yet, throughout 2018, the city of Brussels is celebrating Mount of Piety’s 400th anniversary, an institutional pawnbroker run as a charity in Europe from Renaissance times till today. This organization is also referred as Monte di Pietà (Italian), Mont-de-Pi “t ” (French) or Monte de Piedad (Spanish).

WenceslasCobergherOn Sept. 28, 1618, the Mont-de-Pi “t ” pawn shop was founded by Wenceslas Cobergher, a Flemish renaissance painter and architect, who went on to establish fifteen such institutions in different towns in the Spanish Netherlands in the years between 1618 and 1633, financed by the provision of annuities in return for the direct capital investment. Prior to this date, the provision of consumer credit was largely in the hands of Lombards whose loans were at high rates of interest.

In 2018, the Brussels Mont-de-Pi “t ” is considered a public institution with a strong social character which aims at granting loans against pledge of movable property and value. It also organizes exhibitions and public sales. Mont-de-Pi “t ” has, first of all, a social role which prevents it from having a lucrative goal.

Monte_di_pietà_dei_pilliIn Belgium, the pawnbroker profession is, by law, a monopoly reserved to the Mont-de-Pi “t ” and the holding of private pawnbroker house is severely punished by law.

Today, the Mont-de-Pi “tè is a lending institution accessible to all, offering a credit system that does not exist anywhere else. Since the 2008 crisis, conventional credit became less accessible to everyone. The lower classes, as well as the middle class, are finding it increasingly difficult to borrow. Here, the credit system is based solely on the object brought and not on the other guarantees that the person can bring. We lend to anyone, provided that the object can guarantee the loan,  explained the director of the Mont-de-Pi “t “, Etienne Lambert. We lend a maximum based on our own funds, we have a social mission. We are doing micro-credit, the idea is to offer an accessible offer allowing everyone to make a profit . 