Cool City Sign


But what is that sculpture over the sign? Does that represent a crown? And incidentally, will you be sad when eventually all the pawnbrokers fade from 14th Street? I think they add some nice flavor and character. And I always know where to go when I want to pick up a butterfly knife or a violin for that matter…

4 Comment

  • The three golden balls are the traditional symbol of pawnbrokers the world over. I would be interested to know the extent to which pawnbrokers still function as lenders, as opposed to resale outfits. At one time pawn brokers functioned much like pay day lenders do today, although at a less ruinous interest rate. When my mother was growing up, women would pawn their husbands’ Sunday suits mid-week for grocery money, and retreive them after Friday’s pay day. But my sense is that nowadays they operate primarily as, charitably, a poor man’s e-bay, or, less charitably, somewhere to offload stolen goods. Is that right? Do people still rotate goods in and out?

    Otis Gal says thanks for the T-shirt by the way.

  • Yeah, gotta have someplace to fence all those stolen goods. I’d say that, given burglaries have increased 21% in DC in the past year, you won’t be seeing pawnshops disappear anytime soon.

  • I saw this sign when I was visiting my son who moved to Petworth two years ago. I remarked that I was surprised to see that a sign survived with the original three balls denoting a pawn shop. About six months later, acquisitive friends of mine in Philadelphia said that they had read an article about how terrific pawn shops were in DC because, supposedly, diplomats and other personnel are constantly moving in and out of the area and leaving behind exotic possessions that they no longer need. Since they told me that story, I have been looking everywhere trying to figure out where I had seen the sign. Whoever put it up, thank you for solving a mystery that has been preying on my mind every time I travel anywhere in DC!

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