A Fascinating Piece of Social History

This data was transcribed by Coventry Family History Society members from a quantity of pawnbroker’s tickets discovered in an attic in Far Gosford Street, Coventry. The tickets were in very poor condition in a number of plastic bags and were dirty and difficult to handle and read. Consequently the recovered data is unchecked and less reliable than we would like and only a proportion of the tickets were transcribed. Despite this, it can be used as a social history tool, giving an insight into pawn-broking during and immediately after the First World War. You can see what items people pawned, how much they were loaned and how often.

 If you are fortunate enough to uncover one of you ancestors, this is a bonus!

You may notice that a number of names occur very frequently (e.g. Ann Smith) and it has been suggested that these ladies may have been acting as ‘agents’, pawning multiple items collected from a number of neighbours, and may not be as hard up as they appear.

It is a fascinating glimpse in the social world of Coventry during the first world war.

A summary of our findings is shown below and we hope you enjoy browsing the database.

The undivided database is still available on CD from our  Shop. Searching of the whole database is much easier and you can print out the results.

Browse the Pawn Ticket Database

Coventry Family History Society members can browse the records.

To make the  database easier to browse we have divided into sections by surname.

Interesting Facts about the Pawn Tickets

There were a variety of shapes, sizes and colour of pawn ticket:

This one was issued by William Brookes, 2 Silver Street, Coventry on 15th May 1916 to Will Hards (?) of 6 Hill Cross Street for a spirit level and a rule, for a loan of one shilling (equivalent to  5p). The transcriber has entered ‘Hardy’ in the database, and may well be right! This demonstrates the difficulty of reading these tickets.

The blue diagonal line across the ticket presumably indicates redemption.

The reverse reads:

For LOAN of TEN SHILLINGS or under.

The Pawnbroker is entitled to charge:


For PROFIT on each Two Shillings or part of Two Shillings lent on this Pledge for not more than one calendar month … ONE HALFPENNY.

And so on at the same rate per calendar month.

After the first calendar month, any time not exceeding fourteen days and not more than one month will be charged as one month.

This Pledge must be redeemed within twelve calendar months and seven days from the start of pledging. At the end of that time it becomes the property of the Pawnbroker.  If the Pledge is destroyed or damaged by fire, the Pawnbroker will be bound to pay the value of the Pledge after deducting the amount of the Loan and Profit and twenty-five per cent on the amount of the Loan.

If this Ticket is lost, mislaid, or stolen, the Pawner should at once apply to the Pawnbroker for a Form of Declaration to be made before a Magistrate, or the Pawnbroker will be bound to deliver the Pledge to any person who produces this Ticket to him and claims to redeem the same.

This is a later example from the same pawnbroker, but at the 118 Gosford Street Address.

In addition to the ‘small print ‘ on the reverse, there is also the additional text:

This ticket is in the same format, different colour:

The transcriber has interpreted the surname as Wixon. Other tickets in the same name help interpretation.

What Did the Loan Cost?

For a loan of 10/- (120d, or 50p):

The Pawnbrokers

There are two pawnbrokers listed:

Wm. Brookes at 1-2 Silver Street and 118 Gosford Street

Philips Electric Arc Welding Ltd

At the Coventry History Centre there are papers relating to the commercial activities and private correspondence of the Brookes family of Coventry. The business papers comprise: William Brookes, pawnbroker of 118 Gosford Street and 1-2 Silver Street; Lombards Providers Ltd, jewellers of 108-110 Queen Victoria Street, Brookes Sem-Par Ltd, furniture dealers and restorers of 106-108 Queen Victoria Road, WM Clement Brookes of Balkan Travel Service, 106-108 Queen Victoria Road and a Braby’s (Glasgow) Handbook for Engineers and Architects