Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-jr42d Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-21T05:14:38.729Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

An experiment in banking the poor: the Irish Mont-de-Piété, c. 1830–18501

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 November 2012

Eoin McLaughlin*
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh, eoin.mclaughlin@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

Continental pawnbroking institutions, Monts-de-Piété, were introduced in Ireland in the 1830s and 1840s but did not establish a permanent status. Irish social reformers believed that a Mont-de-Piété system would reduce the cost of borrowing for the poor and also fund a social welfare network, thus negating the need for an Irish Poor Law. This article explores the introduction of the Mont-de-Piété charitable pawnbroker in Ireland and outlines some reasons for its failure. It uses the market incumbents, private pawnbrokers, as a base group in a comparative study and asks why the Monts-de-Piété were the unsuccessful ones of the two. The article finds that the public nature and monopoly status of Monts-de-Piété on the Continent realised economies of scale and gave preferential interest rates on capital, as well as enabling the Mont-de-Piété loan book to be cross-subsidised. These conditions were not replicated in Ireland, hence the failure of the Monts-de-Piété there.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © European Association for Banking and Financial History e.V. 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

1

I would like to Chris Colvin, Vincent Comerford, David Greasley, Liam Kennedy, Larry Neal, Rowena Pecchenino, Peter Sims and two anonymous referees for comments. All errors remain my own.

References

Andrews, H. (2009). Sir Matthew Barrington (1788–1861). Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 310–11.Google Scholar
Anon. (1836). Report of a Meeting, Held in the City Court-house of Limerick, on Friday, October, 28th, 1836, for the purpose of explaining the objects of the Mont de Piété. Limerick: C. O'Brien.Google Scholar
Anon. (1855). Report of the Directors of the Portadown Mont de Piété and Loan Fund to the Central Board in Dublin. Portadown.Google Scholar
Barrington, M. (1836). An Address to the Inhabitants of Limerick on the Opening of the Mont de Piété, or Charitable Pawn Office, for the Support of Barringtons Hospital. Dublin: William Holden.Google Scholar
Bouman, F. J. A. and Houtman, R. (1988). Pawnbroking as an instrument in rural banking in the third world. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 37, pp. 6989.Google Scholar
Bowley, A. (1899). Agricultural wages in Ireland. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, 62.Google Scholar
British Parliamentary Papers (hereafter BPP) (1837–8). Report from the select committee on pawnbroking in Ireland. (677).Google Scholar
BPP (1839). First Loan Fund Board report (hereafter LFB). (578).Google Scholar
BPP (1841). Third LFB report. [319].Google Scholar
BPP (1842). Fourth LFB report. [392].Google Scholar
BPP (1843). Fifth LFB report. [470].Google Scholar
BPP (1845). Return from the Marshal of the City of Dublin of the pawnbrokers of Ireland, for the year ending 31 December 1844. (141).Google Scholar
BPP (1856). Eighteenth LFB report. [2085].Google Scholar
BPP (1867–8). Report of the commissioner appointed to inquire into the laws of pawnbroking in Ireland. [3985].Google Scholar
BPP (1894). Reports from H. M. Representative abroad on the system of pawnbroking in foreign countries. [C. 7559].Google Scholar
Carbonell-Esteller, M. (2012). Montes de Piedad and savings banks as microfinance institutions on the periphery of the financial system of mid-nineteenth century Barcelona. Business History, 54, pp. 363–80.Google Scholar
Caskey, J. P. (1991). Pawnbroking in America: the economics of a forgotten credit market. Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 23, pp. 8599.Google Scholar
Caskey, J. P. (1994). Fringe Banking: Check-Cashing Outlets, Pawnshops and the Poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
Caskey, J. P. and Zikmund, B. J. (1990). Pawnshops: the consumer's lender of last resort. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas Economic Review, pp. 518.Google Scholar
Danieri, C. L. (1991). Credit where Credit is Due: The Mont-de-Piété of Paris, 1777–1851. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
Fitzpatrick, J. (2001). Three Brass Balls: The Story of the Irish Pawnshop. Cork: Collins Press.Google Scholar
Gray, P. (2009). The Making of the Irish Poor Law, 1815–43. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
Green, T. (1991). From a pawnshop to patron of the arts in five centuries. Smithsonian, 22, pp. 5969.Google Scholar
Guinnane, T. W. (1994). A failed institutional transplant: Raiffeisen's credit cooperatives in Ireland, 1894–1914. Explorations in Economic History, 31, pp. 3861.Google Scholar
Hardacker, A. (1892). A Brief History of Pawnbroking. London: Jackson, Ruston and Keeson.Google Scholar
Hollis, A. and Sweetman, A. (2001). The life-cycle of a microfinance institution: the Irish Loan Fund Societies. Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization, 46, pp. 291311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hudson, K. (1982). Pawnbroking: An Aspect of British Social History. London: Bodley Head.Google Scholar
Lamberte, M. B. (1988). An analysis of the role of pawnshops in the financial system. Philippine Institute for Development Studies Working Paper no 88-04.Google Scholar
Ledgerwood, J. (1998). Microfinance Handbook. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Lenihan, M. (1866). Limerick: Its History and Antiquities. Dublin: Hodges, Smith.Google Scholar
M'Cormick, W. (1841). Loan Funding Indefensible. Drogheda: P. Kelly.Google Scholar
Minkes, A. L. (1953). The decline of pawnbroking. Economica, 20, pp. 1023.Google Scholar
Ó Gráda, C. (1974). Soláthar creidmheasa don ísealaicme in Éirinn san 19ú aois. Central Bank of Ireland Quarterly Bulletin, Autumn, pp. 120–35.Google Scholar
Ó Gráda, C. (1999). Black '47 and Beyond: The Great Irish Famine. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O'Rourke, K. (2007). Culture, conflict and cooperation: Irish dairying before the Great War. Economic Journal, 117, pp. 1357–79.Google Scholar
Piesse, C. (1841). Sketch of the Loan Fund System in Ireland. Dublin: A. Thom.Google Scholar
Porter, H. J. (1840). On the mont de piété system of pawnbroking in Ireland. Journal of the Statistical Society of London, 3, pp. 293303.Google Scholar
Porter, H. J. (1842). On the monts de piété of Rome, Genoa, Turin, and Paris, and other pawnbroking establishments on the Continent. Journal of the Statistical Society of London, 4, pp. 348–57.Google Scholar
Raymond, R. J. (1978). Pawnbrokers and pawnbroking in Dublin: 1830–1870. Dublin Historical Record, 32, pp. 1526.Google Scholar
Rivlin, G. (2010). Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty Inc. New York: Harper Business.Google Scholar
Sandra, C. (1995). Charity and Power in Early Modern Italy: Benefactors and Their Motives in Turin, 1541–1789. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Tebbutt, M. (1983). Making Ends Meet: Pawnbroking and Working-Class Credit. Leicester: Leicester University Press.Google Scholar
Wintour, P. (2011). Payday loan companies face tougher regulation over high interest rates. The Guardian, 7 December 2011.Google Scholar