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Bratislavská záložňa, Bratislava
Bratislavská záložňa (Bratislava Pawnbroker), joint stock company in Bratislava, was established in 1910 on the basis of a pawnbroker’s concession issued by the Ministry of Trade in Budapest under number 15.108/1910 as the company of Leopold Ungar. The business experienced reasonable growth given the circumstances, with an average return of 20-25%. In 1929, the pawnshop was transformed into a joint-stock company established pursuant to newly adopted statutes of 6 May 1928. It was entered in the Companies Register of the Regional Court in Bratislava on 1 July 1929 under the name of Bratislavská záložňa, účastinná spoločnosť in Bratislava.
The activity and existence of the company depended on bank loans, as it did not have sufficient reserves of its own capital. Therefore, it limited its activity only to pawnbroking and profits from auction sales.
It was located in a complex of buildings in the busiest part of the city centre. The access was from the former Námestie Republiky (today Námestie SNP) through the courtyard of the crossing house from Hummelova Street (now Nedbalova Street), and this location was very advantageous because it was inconspicuous. All the operating rooms of the pawnbroker were located in the crossing house. The company kept 21 rooms, including the attic, and used them for storage. The new part of the building, suitably connected with the old tracts, included offices, the reception hall and valuable items depository. The premises were rented from the Brouk and Babka company. From 1933 the company operated an auction room in a two-storey house in Župné námestie Square, where the permanent exhibition of auctioned items was connected with their sale. Items could be bought directly for a 10% surcharge above the estimated price.
The administrative bodies of the company comprised the management, which usually consisted of 3 to 5 members, but no more than 20, and a supervisory committee consisting of 3 to 5 members elected for one year. The company also had an office manager, two valuers who guaranteed the correct valuation of items, four administrative clerks and an accountant, plus 2 to 4 storage workers. The management included representatives of the financing bank – Slovenská ľudová banka in Bratislava – who carried out regular audits of the institution’s assets.
The first step in the processing of pawned items was their evaluation by two valuers, one specialising in items from precious metals (jewellery, coins, etc.) and the other one in effects (furniture, sewing machines, clothes). Each of them separately determined not only the price but also the possibility of a loan. The valuer of valuables retained an item and attached a pawn receipt to it, then contacted the counterparty and immediately paid out the determined amount of the loan to them. The valuer of effects valued an item and put it in storage, then determined the maximum loan amount, on the basis of which the cashier paid out the sum and issued a receipt. All this was recorded in the cash-ledger. The turnover and the proceeds of public auctions were regularly recorded in official statements. According to the articles of association, failed surpluses were supposed to be surrendered to the Chudinský fond mestského úradu (Municipal Fund for the Poor) in Bratislava. As regards the interest calculation, it was set at 15% per year for jewellery and at 10% for other valuables. In addition, the institution charged a 5% handling fee. The appraisal value was regularly 20% higher than the loan paid against a pledge. When estimating the price of jewellery, gold, silver and other metals, the value was 30-40% lower than its sale price. For other items by type, the price was 50-70% lower than the sale price.
Records were kept in several books, i.e., the pledge book of effects and valuables, which recorded every movement of an item starting from its pawning till its return to the owner, including the recording and repayment of the loan; cash books which recorded increases and decreases of pawned items and loans (the pledge book was reconciled every day and it included overall pawn broker receipts and expenses); the journal – an auxiliary book which contained data on the balance of the overhead accounts, personal and pawned items accounts; the balance of creditors including creditor and pawned items accounts; the general ledger representing the sum of all accounts used in the company; and a daily book Primanota containing only final items and balances.
In the years of the Great Depression and in 1938, credit requirements for credit and trade in general increased. There was a lack of cash in banks and when the pawnbroker needed to raise operating capital, it had to look for a new credit line, which was provided by Slovenská ľudová banka, Bratislava, however, under very difficult conditions that obliged Leopold Ungar, director of the institution to assume a large part of the liability.
Slovenská ľudová banka provided two loans to Bratislavská záložňa. The first one, a line of credit for the pawnbroker in the amount of 3.2 million Czechoslovak crowns (Kč), was covered by a cession of share certificates and a cession of all pledged assets, and the second loan, a private loan to Leopold Ungar in the amount of Kč 1.5 million, was secured by a pledge worth approximately Kč 5 million entered in a land register. Part of the second loan equal to Kč 1.35 million was used to issue savings books, which were to serve as a tertiary cover of the loan granted to the pawnbroker.
In 1942 the company was registered as a member of the Bratislava Traders’ Association. The same year, Slovenská ľudová banka offered share certificates of Bratislavská záložňa to Sedliacka banka. The latter bank accepted the offer in 1943.
The last financing bank of Bratislavská záložňa was Slovenská Tatra banka, state owned enterprise. In 1949, however, Slovenská Tatra banka did not provide an operational loan to Bratislavská záložňa and as a result the pawnbroker went into liquidation. The preserved documents indicate that in 1949 and 1950 the pawnbroker only liquidated all loans it provided in previous years. The decision on liquidation taken by the management board was announced by the chair of the general shareholders’ meeting. The liquidation of Bratislavská záložňa started on 8 February 1950 in accordance with commercial law.
Preserved documents were deposited in the corporate archives of Štátna banka československá, Regional Institute for Slovakia in Bratislava, in a former monastery at Marianka. From 1975 to 1977 they were moved to the new building of the Archives located at 27 Krajná Street in Bratislava and later, in 2003, to the premises of Národná banka Slovenska at 8 Cukrová Street.
The first partial inventory of the fonds was made by the archives of Štátna banka československá. In 2015, the inventory was supplemented and revised in the Archives of Národná banka Slovenska. The fonds mainly includes minutes, reports and files of the inspection department.