Moneylending in Edwardian Great Britain
April 25, 2013 7:48 PM Subscribe
There's a small curious thing that I've been wondering about for some time, and I hope MeFi can help me find out more about. I have a predilection for novels set in the 1920s and 30s, particularly Enligh ones. I've read more than my fair share of Wodehouse and Sayers and the odd Agatha Christie as well. And in these books I've often come across a passing reference to what seems to have been a well-known variety of small classified ad, in which a Scottish moneylender offers to lend anything up to £10,000 on "your note of hand alone." Except, from context, it's pretty much always implied that such moneylenders were a) not Scottish and b) wouldn't actually lend money without collateral. Can anyone tell me more about this phenomenon?
posted by Diablevert to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
In some instances it reads to me like the subtext is that the lenders are actually Jewish; presumably the idea was that a firm would use a Scottish name to combat anti-Semitism. But was there ever such a thing as an actual Scottish moneylender? Such a thing that Scots became proverbial for it, like Vietnamese nail salons? And how does the whole "note of hand" phenomenon work? Why were they allowed to advertise that they'd lend thousands of pounds if they wouldn't? Or if they would, how would you prevent a deadbeat from skipping without collateral? Were these services a total joke/scam, like X-ray specs in a comic, or a slightly shady thing that people actually did use, like the escort ads in the back of the Village Voice?