What is Old Pawn?

The items seen on our Old Pawn web pages would have a long, probably sad, story to tell if they had the ability to tell us their history.  In  times past, the people of this area made, wore, and treasured their turquoise jewelry as not only a thing of adornment, a protector of good health, but also as portable wealth.  They still do so – the lucky ones.  Not having ready access to banks,  or cash money, this turquoise jewelry would often serve as the family “reserve” or “emergency” fund.  Also, the turquoise is thought of as a healing and protecting agent.  

In times of need, this  turquoise jewelry could be easily used as security with an authorized trader (pawned) for cash to meet the current crisis.  Then, when the crops came in, or the sheep were shorn – or whatever – the  turquoise jewelry could be redeemed and take its place back in the family. 

Unfortunately, on occasion this  turquoise jewelry would not be redeemed as planned.  The lender would keep it for the agreed amount of time, and if the loan were not paid off by the agreed date, the Pawn Shop, or Trader, would be authorized to sell the turquoise jewelry.  

And, often, when the elders of the family die, the items are pawned, and the money is divided up within the family. Us other Americans do basically the same thing, except we call it “Probate” and a large part may go to some lawyer somewhere. 

That’s where we enter the picture.  We scour these pawn shops on and near the Reservations to find these items.  From our Trading Post to Window Rock (on the Navajo Reservation), to Zuni Pueblo (on the Zuni Reservation), and back home, is an 827 mile round trip.  It’s not an easy thing.  The miles are over twisty mountain roads, or desolate deserts in this part of the world.   At the same time,  we feel deeply for those who have lost their treasures.

There is no doubt that many of the items shown here have been the pride of some family in years gone past.  It has been worn in ceremonials, family gatherings, in times of joy, and in times of sorrow.  Some has been sold, stolen, pawned,  loved, inherited, lost, found, given, cherished,  gambled for, gambled with, and taken away. Whatever the reason, it has left the family where it was loved and treasured.  We only hope that whoever buys it from these web pages can appreciate its worth, not only for what it is, but for what it represents. 

When we find this turquoise jewelry, and buy it, we can’t help but think about its history.  The mystery surrounding it. These are not “tourist trap items”, nor cheap imports.  These were part of someone’s life. We handle it a little more carefully.  We don’t polish it – we don’t remove the signs of wear – the signs of use.  It really meant something to someone.  We hope that it means something special to that someone who finally ends up with it.  Maybe that someone is you.