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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4701

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1843-1965

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 0.30 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Northern Friendly Society of Pawnbrokers


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Northern Friendly Society was established on 31 January 1837 with the objective of being a sociable organisation which could share information of interest in the trade. An extract from the Pawnbrokers' Gazette reporting on the Jubilee of the Society in 1887 stated it was formed, "to protect the Trade against 'duffers' and to exterminate a class of vermin called 'common informers.'" The names of the founding members have not all survived, from later minutes it can be established that one was Mr James Telfer (of Ponders End) and a second was Mr Sharwood who in the Jubilee year of the Society (1887) was aged 86 and acted as the chair of the meeting, he resigned in October 1888 due to 'old age and its consequences.'

Membership was to be restricted to master pawnbrokers or gentlemen connected with the trade. The membership was limited to fifteen members according to a list of rules drawn up in 1844 (later expanded to thirty members), each paying a subscription. On occassion, Honorary Members could be elected by unanimous vote. Members were also often members of the Bouverie Society, a social club for master pawnbrokers (see CLC/034).

The subscriptions were used to defray the costs of the meetings and also to make special purchases. In the Jubilee Year of the society (1887) a silver loving cup was purchased at a cost of 35 4s; according to an inventory attached to an insurance schedule of 1965 the value of the loving had risen to 58 and this was just one of seven pieces of silver that belonged to the Society with other pieces having presented to the society by members and one piece a plain silver cup and cover with wood plinth in a case commemorating the Bouverie Society versus the Northern Friendly Gold Challenge Cup.


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection includes minutes (with the exception of three volumes for 1837-1843, 1866-1884 and 1896-1905 which are noted as missing in the later minute books), rules and papers from the society including reference to insuring the society silver and stories from members.

The minutes are very detailed and provide an exception insight into the pawnbroking trade; shared stories reflect concerns of the time. There are accounts of losing money on pledges, bulgaries, fraud as well as discussions on the impact of legislation on the business and the state of the trade generally. References to the type of items being pawned also show the changing value of goods over the period of time.

The minutes cover both the First World War and the Second World War and show how the pawnbroking businesses were affected during these period of time, for example during the First World War it was recorded in October 1916 that one member raised the question of whether field glasses could be taken in pledge, in February 1919 a discussion was had on the effects of demobelisation and wages and in March of 1920 they discussion the issue of being offered firearms as a pledge items and how one member had recently sold to the Ministry of Munitions two army revolvers.

The Second World War saw meetings abandoned for a short time with members raising concerns about holding what could be deemed as a 'social gathering' in war time being recorded in the February of 1940 and in May 1941 there are detailed discussions between the members concerning the effect of fire, caused by air raids on jewellery and valuables in safes which was following the next month by discussions of the position of pawnbrokers regarding war damage insurance in respect of goods that they were holding on pledge. An entry from November 1941 shows the effect of not wrapping purchased goods when a member, Mr Norris remarked that the about of pilfering by the public in the sales shops had increased since the order prohibiting the use of paper for wrapping up goods sold to customers which meant that it was not easy to detect thieving as there was noting to show at a glance whether the article had been purchased or not.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Arranged in three series as follows:
LMA/4701/01: Minutes
LMA/4701/02: Rules and Regulations
LMA/4701/03: Office papers

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is held by the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated in June 2013.


Related material:

See also Bouverie Society (CLC/034) and the National Pawnbrokers Association (CLC/012).

DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Added April 2016

Pawnbrokers | Merchants | Mercantile personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Pawnbroking | Money lending | Finance
Trade associations | Associations | Organizations

Personal names

Corporate names
Northern Friendly Society of Pawnbrokers