Get your teeth into pawnbroker’s past at Black Country Living Museum

By Thomas Parkes | Attractions | Published:

The cruel world of Edwardian payday loans will be brought to life as a new character moves into the Black Country Living Museum.

Visitors will now be greeted by the new character at the Pawnbroker's Shop who will cast light on the grisly tales behind those who were short of cash years ago, including stories about how people would pawn their teeth on a Monday and pick them up in time to eat their Sunday dinner.

A museum spokesman said: "Pawnbrokers were a form of cheap credit for the working classes of the Black Country before state benefits were available. So we are using objects like the set of teeth (they're real teeth, too) to show our visitors that it wasn't unusual for people to pawn such items during hard times.

Clothes at the Pawnbroker's shop.

"We know, for example, that some people would pawn their teeth on the Monday and pick them back up on Saturday so they could eat their Sunday roast!

"We've refreshed our first person interpretation of the building so that it tells the stories of the people who fell on hard times to our summer visitors. It will be manned by a character full time throughout the summer holidays."

Prior to the Second World War, before state benefits, pawnshops allowed people to raise money to bolster their income for when work was slack.

Teeth at the pawnbroker shop.

The front room of the pawnbroker's shop, housed in a pair of cottages from Himley, displays unredeemed pledges.


People who wished to pawn an item to raise cash, went through to the increased privacy of the panelled pledge room at the rear.

They then had to return within an agreed amount of time to redeem the item left in exchange for cash.

Pawnbroker teddy bear

In the building next to the pawnshop the same proprietor runs a second-hand furniture business. Ssome of the items being offered came from people who had been unable to raise enough cash to buy them back from the pawn shop.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at


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