Religious items very popular in pawn business, says Pawn Stars’ Rick Harrison

Image: Menachem Wecker If television adds 10 pounds to some unlucky actors, it evidently does the same for pawn shops. … Continued


Image: Menachem Wecker

If television adds 10 pounds to some unlucky actors, it evidently does the same for pawn shops. Gold & Silver Pawn, which is located a few miles north of the Las Vegas Strip, feels smaller in person than it does on the History channel. But on a recent visit to the store’s 713 South Las Vegas Boulevard location, the wares included an impressive array of religious holdings.

A glass display case at the front of the shop featured an early-to-mid-18th century German bible with handsome illustrations and an elaborately decorated cover with floral and geometric patterns. (Although Rick Harrison, who owns the shop, referred to the bible as “16th century” in an email interview, a note from Cynthia Davis Buffington, principal at Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company, that I was shown at the shop diagnoses the book as 18th century—noting that references to the 16th century “refer to the dates of Luther’s translation and its first publication, not to the printing of the volume in hand.”)

Tucked high up on a shelf on the wall, an oil painting on canvas copy of Rembrandt’s “Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem” bears the enigmatic signature: Cubillo and the price tag of $200. And other offerings—at least for those with thousands of dollars burning a hole in their pockets—included a Rembrandt etching from 1632 of the “Raising of Lazarus” ($10,500); a Marc Chagall print depicting a red sun overlooking a green nude, a large yellow bird, a flying man with a hat, and a fish (or other obscured animal) holding up a tree ($10,000); and an Albrecht D rer etching ($64,999), “Knight, Death, and the Devil.”


Image: Menachem Wecker

“Religious items are very popular and come through the shop quite often,” Harrison said in a follow up interview after the visit. “Most of the pre-20th century items do well. We have had some flops.”

Asked whether the abundance of Chagall works in the shop pointed to a large clientele interested in the works or buyer’s remorse from collectors hoping to unload their Chagall collections, Harrison said there is a great deal of interest in the works of the Jewish artist, who was born in Vitebsk in 1887.

“Chagall was not only a great artist; he was a great businessman as well,” Harrison said. “He printed a lot of his works.”

Another fixture in the shop was religiously-themed necklaces, which could be found in a glass case near the entrance to the store. “[Crosses and Stars of David] have been steady since the early 80s,” Harrison said. “It’s the bread and butter of jewelry stores and a good part of the pawn business.”

Most collectors interested in religious works want art from the 19th century, as those tend to contain “religious tones,” according to Harrison. “Which religion isn’t relevant to buyers,” he adds.

As for Harrison himself, although it’s easy to get the sense from his show that he harbors a healthy skepticism about a lot of things—and, for example, in season three episode 26 (2010) he refers to relics of saints that actually contain bone or other bodily shards as “creepy”—he actually has “quite a few religious items at home,” he says.

Menachem Wecker is a freelance writer based in Chicago. He Tweets @mwecker.

More on:

About

Menachem Wecker Menachem Wecker is a freelance reporter based in Chicago and the former education reporter at U.S. News & World Report.
Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.