The 7 Best Objects to Pawn

Strapped for cash? You might be interested in pawning a few items — that is, providing something of value as collateral for a monetary loan — when you're in a bind. What's some of the best stuff to pawn? Peep this list of popular items that bring home the big(ish) bucks.

1. Scrap Jewelry

Jewelry, especially gold and silver, intrinsically holds value — so long as the market dictates, and people like shiny things. And pawnshops are always on the lookout for a potential payday on your precious-metal rings, bracelets, and necklaces.

"This is most true with scrap jewelry," says Kurt Heckman, president of vCalc, an online calculator for determining the real value of jewelry. "Whether it's an old necklace from a past boyfriend or girlfriend, or something you've inherited from an aunt, even the ugliest scrap jewelry can have significant value."

I can personally vouch for scrap metal bringing in a decent dollar amount. When my grandmother died, she left me one of her wedding rings. Considering that I'm married to a dude and not interested in having children, I didn't really have much use for the ring — and I don't believe in having something just to have it. Thus, I sold the gold and kept the diamonds so that I can have them reset into another reminder of my grandmother that I can actually wear and cherish.

2. High-End Electronics

Higher-end electronics, including relatively large LED and LCD TVs, new gaming systems, digital cameras, tablets, laptops, and more, are promising pawn items. The value of these items at the pawn shop is similar to what they're going for on sites like eBay. Just make sure your item is complete and in excellent condition to get the most value from it. Missing cords, controllers, and even packaging material — particularly for Apple products — can reduce the value considerably. Also, make sure that the devices are fully charged before going to the store so the attendant can test the items quickly and efficiently.

3. Gas- and Battery-Powered Tools

Believe it or not, there's a huge secondhand market for power tools, both gas and battery powered. Like your high-end electronics, you'll want to make sure that all of the components (cords, accessories, etc.) are with the item for maximum value, plus charge them or fill them with gas before bringing them to the shop so you can demonstrate that they work. As these items have a propensity to get dirty, taking a soapy garage rag to them to before showing them off isn't a bad idea either.

4. Coins and Currency

Perhaps one of the surest bets at the pawnshop is coins and currency. Collectors frequent pawnshops to find rare currency for their collections, so the market is strong. Plus, since we're dealing with money here, you'll almost always get face value (but hopefully more). Ideal pieces to take into the shop include U.S. collectible coins, gold coins, silver dollars, half-dollars, American Eagles, proof sets, silver certificates, Federal Reserve Notes, and rare paper money. (See also: 15 Surprisingly Valuable Uses for a Penny)

5. Musical Instruments

A story on NBC News a few years ago revealed that musical instruments are popular pawn items, much to the delight of parents everywhere whose elementary-school children quit violin lessons after four weeks. Guitars and amplifiers are among the most coveted items, however, most likely to the chagrin of parents whose high-school children dream of garage-band stardom.

6. Guns

It probably comes as no surprise that gun sales are big business for pawnshops given the political climate in which we live. Gun sales are tricky, though. For starters, you must be the registered owner of the gun that you're trying to pawn, and you have to find a shop that accepts your type of weapon. Some shops will only accept antiques, or they might have restrictions against automatic weapons. Plus, gun-control laws are getting stricter, and policies are changing all the time. These items may start to become scarce in pawnshops in the near future.

7. Rare Collectibles and Items With Historical Value

Ever watched Antiques Roadshow in amazement (and a little bit of jealousy) at the seemingly ordinary items that people bring in that have an astonishingly high appraisal value? You might have some of those hidden treasures in your own attic, basement, or displayed prominently in your house. The value will increase if your item is a rare collectible or has historical value. If you have a hunch that something may yield a big payday, research it online first to see what you're working with and go from there.

Have you ever pawned anything? Was the outcome what you expected? Let's discuss in the comments below.

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The 7 Best Objects to Pawn

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