Quasi reality shows such as Pawn Stars have placed pawn shops in the spotlight. It has given credibility to age old myths and given some people the idea that pawn shops are a repository of valuable antiques and historic treasures.
But on occasion truth is stranger than fiction. As an example, at a pawn shop in Irving, Texas a woman came into the store and sold a few small items. And then she drove across the parking lot and pushed an ancient gravestone from her car into the grass.
The owner of a pawn shop in Idaho purchased some interesting mineral specimens from a customer. He had no idea what they were, but the price paid was such that he knew he could sell the ornate stones as paper weights and turn a profit.
A paleontologist that came to the store in search of some camping items and tools noticed the specimens. With the owner’s permission he cleaned the stones and revealed that they were a Hadrosaur egg, a small dinosaur footprint, and a Lepidotus fish fossil.
A persistent story told by pawn shop owners throughout the world is about people trying to sell a glass eye. An interesting aspect of this story or urban legend is that almost all owners that claim to have experienced this say that the customer waits until they are at the pawn shop counter to remove them.
Some of the most interesting stories from pawn shops, as shown on the Pawn Stars program, are about the rare, unusual, and historic items that people pawn or sell. As an example, many pawn shops will lend against automobiles. But at a pawn shop in England a customer tried to sell a helicopter!
At a pawn shop in New York, a customer pawned an ornate cigar box. He claimed to have found it, complete with cigars, at a yard sale years before. I can only imagine the store owners surprise to learn that the humidor had been a gift to President John F Kennedy.
And then there are the things that turn up at pawn shops which raise an array of questions. A few years ago, a pawn shop owner in South Dakota purchased a rare and nearly pristine German gas mask from WWI.
A museum employee in Cheyenne, Wyoming saw the gas mask listed on eBay by the pawn shop and was intrigued by the label that said the gas mask had purportedly been found in the Belleau Wood, site of a major battle in France.
After the pawn shop owner was contacted by the Wyoming State Museum, he removed the listing. As it turned out, the gas mask was part of a collection of WWI items that were stolen from a display in the state capital almost one hundred years ago.
Chances are that you won’t find a WWI gas mask or presidential humidor at either Pawn World store in Kingman, Arizona. However, you will find one of the largest firearm stores in northwest Arizona, and bargains on tools and electronics.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America.