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'Pawn Stars' is a hidden TV treasure that brings history to life


Corey, Rick and Richard Harrison from "Pawn Stars."

The History Channel is home to a a hidden treasure that brings history to life in a fresher, more modern way than Antiques Roadshow ever imagined. Pawn Stars is so much more interesting to watch because of its interesting and unusual finds, coupled with its interesting and unusual characters. The combination is a recipe for success for the History Channel, and a rare cable TV find in the wacky world of reality TV. I’m not even a history buff, but I find myself tuning in to the History Channel every Monday to catch its newest hit show, Pawn Stars.

Pawn Stars revolves around the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, located on the outskirts of Las Vegas. It’s owned and operated by three generations of the Harrison family: Richard (more commonly known as “Old Man”), his son, Rick, and grandson, Corey. A fourth character, Chumlee Russell, is also a regular on the show. Chumlee is Corey’s bumbling, but lovable best friend who provides silly levity, and is the ying to businessman Rick Harrison’s yang. The three Harrisons clash at times, but they have a family bond that remains strong, even during the most serious of disputes. The Harrisons have a sharp eye and keen sense of value and history. As Rick says during the show’s opening, “One thing I know for sure is that you never what will come through that door.” From the commonplace to the rare and extraordinary to the weird and truly bizarre, viewers get a chance to see and learn about unusual items, like a 17th century stay of execution order, guns and knives dating back to the 17th century, rare art and so much more. Each week is like discovering yet another treasure trove of America’s past.

Rick Harrison inside the "Pawn Stars" pawn shop.

While viewers and fans of Pawn Stars love learning about the items, what truly makes the popular weekly reality show tick is its small, but memorable cast of characters. “The Old Man” is the appraiser. Armed with the rare skill of appraising the value of anything accurately, Richard drives a hard bargain. He also has the driest sense of humor of the bunch and is very difficult to please. Rick Harrison is known as “The Spotter” because he’s an expert at spotting anything fake or stolen. Often acting as the middleman between his father and son, Rick is the most jovial of the three, and often serves as the glue that holds the family together. Trained in the pawn business from the age of 13, Rick was born a hustler. He even dropped out of high school to pursue his $2,000-a-week business of selling fake Gucci bags. With enough money to partner with his father at the age of 23, Rick never looked back. Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison started working at the pawn shop at the tender age of nine. Corey is in charge of hiring new employees and firing ones not up to par. He also manages the increasingly popular Ebay clients. Rick believes that Corey needs to earn his keep. Without a real stake in the business, Corey is hoping that all of his hard work pays off. Last, but not least, is Austin “Chumlee” Russell, Corey’s lifelong best friend and often the butt of jokes. Although he has a heart of gold and a quiet disposition, Chumlee doesn’t always make the best decisions for the shop.The remaining cast of characters includes the people who come into the shop to sell or pawn their items. Las Vegas is the perfect pool for finding interesting folks in need of quick money.

Pawn Stars is currently in its second season, and judging from its legion of loyal fans, a third season should definitely be in the works. You can order the first season of Pawn Stars by clicking here. New episodes of season two air on The History Channel every Monday night at 10/9c. The next time you’re in Las Vegas, be sure to stop by Gold & Silver Pawn Shop at 713 Las Vegas Blvd. South, or call (702) 385-7912.

Chumlee Russell provides comic relief on "Pawn Stars."

Interesting Facts about 'Pawn Stars':

  • One of the most valuable items at the Pawn Stars shop is a 2001 Super Bowl ring, valued at $60,000.
  • Once Pawn Stars caught on, business boomed at the pawn shop. The store went from 12 to 38 employees and Rick Harris told the Las Vegas Sun, “Business is good, suffice it to say.”
  • One of the oldest items in the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop is a Greek Didrachm that dates back to 325 B.C.
  • The Harrisons are not especially fond of buying boats because of the “BOAT" theory, which refers to “Bust out another thousand.”
  • The most expensive items ever sold at the pawn shop were four one-kilo gold bars, valued at $128,000.
  • Chumley drives a Harley.
  • Pawn Stars has no plans to include the Harrisons’ wives on the show.
  • The experts on the show receive no payment from the Harrisons or Pawn Stars. Most live in Vegas.
  • Corey Harrison has two brothers.
  • Pawn Stars and a similar reality show called American Pickers pull in the best TV ratings for cable shows airing on Monday.
  • Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood also airs on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and pulled in 0.662 million viewers, as opposed to Pawn Stars 4.199 million viewers.
  • The Las Vegas Sun said this about Pawn Stars: “Unearthing the Harrisons and their Gold & Silver Pawn Shop was like uncovering a gold brick under a pile of cinder blocks." The writer was correct!
  • Daily visits to the pawn shop’s website have jumped from 70 to more than 1,000.
  • The Harrisons just completed a $400,000 expansion, which doubled the store’s size.
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  • Jesse 5 years ago

    I love the show. It is always rich in history and typically quite amusing.

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