Mont De Piete, a public institution in continental Europe, the original object of which was to deliver the needy from the charges of Jewish and Lombard money lenders. One is said to have been founded at Freising in Bavaria about the year 1200 by a charitable association and with the sanction of Pope Innocent III.; but it is more generally believed that the first mont de piete was established in Perugia in the latter half of the 15th century, and derived its name (monte dipieta) from the hill upon which it was situated. The earliest one in France was probably that of Rheims. Marseilles, Montpellier, and other French cities possessed monts de piete in the 17th century; as in Italy, they were supported by charitable endowments, but they charged interest at the rate of 15 per cent, upon all loans exceeding five francs, whereas the Italian institutions only charged a small rate, rarely exceeding 5 per cent., to cover the indispensable expenses. The mont de pi6t6 of Paris was opened Jan..l, 1778, and was authorized in 1779 to make a loan guaranteed by the income of the Mpital general. During the revolution it was closed; and the usurious rates of interest charged by the money lenders during the reign of terror caused its reopening in 1803 to be hailed with delight by the poor.
In 1831 it was placed under the charge of an administrative council; and in 1851 the monts de piete were placed under the superintendence of a select commit-too. The Paris niont de piete is situated in the rue des Blancs Manteaux, with two large branches in the rue Bonaparte and the rue de Li Roquette. There are also about 20 agents scattered over Paris, appointed by the administration. The mont de piete makes advances from three francs upward at a rate fixed in 1854 at 4 1/2 per cent, per annum, which has since been as high as 9 per cent. In 1873 the rate was 5 per cent. No money is advanced except upon securities, the value of which is assessed by a committee of appraisers, four fifths of the value being advanced upon articles of gold and silver, and two thirds upon all other articles. A receipt for the article pledged is given to the owner, who must prove his identity in order to reclaim it. The articles pledged, if not redeemed, are sold at public sales at the expiration of 14 months, and the surplus money, if any. is paid to the owner of the article if applied for within three years. The annual receipts and expenditures of the mont de piete are respectively about 50.000,000 francs, with a balance of about 230,000 francs in favor of the institution.
The most profitable customers of the mont de piete are not the poor, but the needy of the higher classes. Daring the rule of the commune in Paris in 1871, the official organ published a decree. May 12, that all articles of wearing apparel, linen, books, bedding, and working tools, pledged at the mont de piete for a sum not exceeding 20 francs, could be taken out without any payment, the receiver of money on such articles proving his identity; and it was estimated that the sum to repay such advances would be about 8,000,000 francs. The largest number of applications for redemption is on Saturdays, and just before New Year's and Easter. In 1873 there were 46; monts de piete in France, with a capital of about 50,000.000 francs, making yearly loans of about 00,000,000. In live of the establishments the loans are gratuitous; in the rest the rate of interest varies. There are numerous similar establishments in Holland, Belgium, and Germany. In the latter country the rate of interest varies from 8 to 12 per cent.; loans rarely exceed the amount of $150, and the smallest pledge must be worth at least $2, one month being the shortest and a year the longest term of the loan. The rate of interest in the Russian in monts do piete is 6 per cent.
China is said to possess very ancient institutions of the kind, under the direction of great public digmtunes. which seen, to be conducted upon more charitable principles than those of Europe, the rate of interest there being only from 2 to 3 per cent. - These institutions are represented in Great Britain and America by pawn shops. which differ from them in being private establishments regulated by special laws.