Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus

This beautiful house in Nybrogade in Copenhagen was built by the mayor Wilhelm Bjerregaard in 1728, after the fire that left much of the city in ruins. This large building was Kongelig Privilegeret Assistence Hus from 1753-1962. Now you wonder what that might be? Well, here is the short 280 year story of the Royal Pawnbrokers in Copenhagen.

King Christian V founded in 1688 an institution, that could lend money to the citizens of Copenhagen with security in their valuables. It was from the start a privately run business, but it was no success for any of those in charge of the operation.

In 1753 it was taken over by the Government, and Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus moved into the present house in 1758. The house that had a 9 window facade was extended with tree more windows, making it into the impressive baroque building seen today.

During its 286 year history there was daily traffic to Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus of citizen that had met financial problems. Even though most of them were poor or middle class, a fair amount of the more distinguished members of the Copenhagen elite had to seek assistance at the Royal Pawnbrokers. Until 1921 a public humiliation could be avoided through a number of men and women that could be paid to undertake the mission in full discretion.

No questions were asked, as the Pawnbrokers valued the objects brought to the house, and the lender had 9 months to retrieve the goods, if paying an interest of 18%. If not they would be sold at auction.

Until 1950 Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus was a financial success. When the Scandinavian welfare state was established after the war, the institution started its decline. In the 1960's surplus changed to deficit. The Pawnbrokers moved out of the house in 1962, leaving it to the Ministry of Culture.

Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus was closed for business in 1974.

What else can be found close to Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus?

See this map of Copenhagen

Vis Copenhagen on Enjoy Food & Travel 2007-2009 i et større kart

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