Cajun Pawn Stars FAQ

Cajun Pawn Stars, Jimmie DeRamus, History, History Channel

Curious about the culture and industry behind Cajun Pawn Stars? Get your questions answered.

Who are the Cajuns?
The term “Cajun” refers to the descendants of French colonists who settled in Acadie, part of present-day Nova Scotia, in the 17th century. In the mid-1700s, these “Acadians” were expelled from Canada for refusing to swear allegiance to the British crown and church. Many of them relocated to the swamps, bayous, prairies and cities of Spanish-controlled Louisiana, where they developed a distinct dialect and vibrant culture. They are known for their flavorful cuisine, unique music and folk traditions.

What is a pawn shop?
Pawn shops offer secured loans to individuals, using personal items or property as collateral. The earliest pawn shops emerged more than 3,000 years ago in China. They thrived in ancient Greece and Rome, giving merchants a chance to establish small businesses. In the United States, the industry took off during the Great Depression, becoming a primary source for loans amid the economic crisis.

Where does the term “pawn” come from?
It has its roots in the Latin word “platinum,” meaning cloth or clothing. Garments ranked among working people’s most valuable possessions and were thus an ideal choice for pawning.

Why are three spheres suspended from a bar the traditional symbol of pawnbrokers? 
The emblem originated with the Medicis, a family of influential merchants that played an important role in medieval and Renaissance Italy. According to legend, one of the Medicis killed a giant with three sacks of rocks while working for Emperor Charles the Great. Three spheres were later incorporated into the Medici crest and ultimately became associated with the pawn business.

How many pawn shops are there in the United States?
More than 12,000 U.S. pawn shops are in operation today. The industry thrives because some 25 million Americans don’t have bank checking accounts, and many turn to pawn shops as a source of short-term loans.

How are American pawn shops regulated?
While some federal rules governing pawn shops exist, the trade is largely regulated by each individual state. States license the stores, set interest rates and determine how much time must elapse before pawned items are sold. Some states also require their pawn shops to report daily transactions to help prevent stolen goods from being pawned or sold.