[PLEDGE.] The business of lending money on pledges is in many countries carried on under the immediate control of the go vernment as a branch of the public ad ministration ; and where only private individuals engage iu it, as in this coun try, it is placed under regulations. Thus in China, where pawnbrokers are very numerous, Mr. Davis says (' Chinese,' vol. ii. p. 438) they are under strict re gulations.
The 12 Anne, stet. 2, c. 16, fixed the legal rate of interest at 5 per cent. per annum; but the interest which pawn brokers are allowed to charge is regu lated by a special statute, the 39 & 40 Geo. III. c. 99, passed 28th of July,1800. This act fixes the rates of interest allowed on goods or chattels placed in the hands of pawnbrokers according to the follow ing scale:— For every pledge upon which there shall have been lent any sum not exceed ing 2s. 6d., the sum of id., for any time during which the said pledge shall re main in pawn not exceeding one calendar month, and the same for every calendar month afterwards, including the current month in which such pledge shall be redeemed, although such month shall not be expired. If there shall have been lent the sum of 58., one penny; 7s. 6d., one penny halfpenny ; los., two-pence; 12s. 681., two-pence halfpenny ; 15s., threepence; 178. hd., three-pence halfpenny; 20s., four pence ; and so on progressively and in proportion for any sum not exceeding 408.; but if exceeding 408. and not ex ceeding 428., eight-pence ; if exceeding 42s. and not exceeding 10/., after the rate of three-pence for every 20s., by the ca lendar month, including the current month, and so on in proportion for any fractional sum. Persons may redeem goods within seven days after the ex piration of the first calendar month with out paying interest for the extra seven days ; or within fourteen days on paying for one mouth and a half; after which time interest is charged for two calendar months.
Pawnbrokers are required by the act to keep books in which all goods taken in pledge must be entered and described, the sum advanced upon them, and the name and abode of the pledger, and whether he is a housekeeper or a lodger. They make out at the time two memoranda of these particulars, one of which is given to the pledger. This duplicate is given gratis in all cases where the sum ad vanced is under 5s.; when it is 5s. and
under 108., one halfpenny is charged ; 10s, and under 20s., one penny ; 11. and under W., two-pence ; 51. and upwards, four-pence. Articles pledged for sums above 5s. must be entered in the pawn broker's books within four hours ; and those on which 10s. or upwards have been advanced must be entered in a separate book and numbered, the first entry in each month commencing No. 1. The number and description of the pledge in the books and on the duplicate correspond with each other. Articles cannot be taken out of pawn without the production of the duplicate, the holder of which is assumed to be the owner ; and accordingly dupli cates are often sold by the pledger when he wants money, and they are transferred from one to another like any other sale able article. If a duplicate should be lost or stolen, the pawnbroker is required to give a copy of it to the person who represents himself as the owner of the articles pledged, with a blank form of affidavit, which must be filled up with a statement of the circumstances under which the original duplicate was lost, to the truth of which deposition an oath must be made before a magistrate. For this second duplicate the pawnbroker is entitled to demand one halfpenny, if the sum advanced does not exceed 5s.; from 5s. to 10s., one penny ; and afterwards in the same proportion as for the original duplicate.
The penalty against unlawfully pawn ing goods the property of others is be tween 20s. and 51., besides the full value of the goods pledged ; and in default of payment, the offending party may be com mitted for three months' imprisonment and hard labour. Persons forging or counterfeiting duplicates, or not being able to give a good account of themselves on offering to pawn goods, are liable to imprisonment for any period not exceed ing three months. Pawnbrokers or other persons buying or taking in pledge un finished goods, linen, or apparel intrusted to others to wash or mend, are to forfeit double the sum advanced and to restore the goods. The act empowers police offi cers to search pawnbrokers' houses or warehouses when suspected to contain unfinished goods unlawfully pledged, and goods unlawfully pawned must be restored to the owner by the pawnbroker.