The pawnshop was a critical component of urban credit networks in early modern Europe, serving as a source of ready cash in an era before there was widespread access to deposit banking and formal consumer loans. This article examines the use of the pawnshop, among other financial strategies, such as shop credit and loans between kin and neighbors, by a sample of poor to middling citizen households in eighteenth-century Amsterdam. It also evaluates the multiple links between consumer behavior and the acquisition of either savings or debt. Petty credit from the pawnshop came at a high price, and its use presumed prior access to consumer goods suitable for pawning. Thus we find that the poorest households did not rely on the pawnshop as often or as extensively as their better-situated peers for whom collateral was more easily obtained. Better-situated households also enjoyed easier access to shop credit, the terms of which were more favorable for the consumer. None of these households, however, were in positions to save to the extent necessary for participation in the larger capital markets of Amsterdam and the world.


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pp. 213-238
Launched on MUSE
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