Silver skull adds bite to North Walsham pawnshop cocktail

PUBLISHED: 15:13 02 October 2012

Chris Smith, owner of Smith's Pawnbrokers in North Walsham, holds the silver skull sculpture which was recently brought into his shop.

Chris Smith, owner of Smith's Pawnbrokers in North Walsham, holds the silver skull sculpture which was recently brought into his shop. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY


Alas, Poor Yorick I knew him - but he never looked like this!

Almost like the plot from an Indiana Jones movie a life-size skull fashioned out of silver has turned up at a Norfolk pawnbrokers shop.

The skull was taken into Smiths jewellery and pawn shop in North Walsham Market Place by a local sculptor and whitesmith who works in light-coloured metals, and now gives a hollow-socketed stare at surprised passing shoppers well ahead of Halloween.

Christopher Smith, who runs the shop, said: “It was a piece which was commissioned for £3,000 - £5,000 around 18 years ago and the person never came back for it.”

The almost life-size skull which is made out of silver was pawned for £100.

Mr Smith said he would now keep the skull for a month, and under the pawnbroking system the person who brought it in could either buy it back with interest or just pay interest if he wanted the broker to keep it for longer.

But he admitted: “It is so weird and wonderful I might keep it myself if he does not buy it back.”

Pawnbroking dates back to the ancient Greek and Roman empires. The famous pawnbrokers’ symbol is three spheres suspended from a bar over the shop front. It is attributed to the Medici family of Florence, Italy and the Italian province of Lombardy, where pawn shop banking originated under the name of Lombard banking.

The trade has also featured in classic stories. The Adventure of the Red-Headed League, an early Sherlock Holmes short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, centres around a London pawnbroker and his shifty young clerk.

Jewellery is largely thought to be the most commonly pawned item. The most expensive items ever sold at the Pawn Shop feature in the American reality television series, Pawn Stars were four one-kilo gold bars valued at $128,000.

Mr Smith, who has been in the business for 18 years moving from Lowestoft to Bungay and then North Walsham, said that over the years he had seen many unusual and wonderful items pass through his door, many of which he has found so strange and fascinating he decided to keep them himself.

The included: a parrot, a cockatoo, a classic estate car which he kept for himself and turned into a business vehicle, a hang glider and a tractor.

What is the strangest thing you have ever pawned? Leave your comments below

1 comment

  • Why would anyone pawn gold bars? If you had some and desperately needed cash surely you just sell them, and then buy some different ones when times were better? Obviously people might have sentimental feelings for jewellery and want it back, but gold bullion?

    Report this comment

    Cyril the Canary

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012


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