‘Pawn Stars’: One Customer Laid Tracks to Big Bucks with Railroad Antique

by Courtney Blackann

During an episode of “Pawn Stars,” a man brings in a super unique item that really impresses Harrison. While the show is filled with strange, old and unusual antiques, this particular item is something the expert says he’s never seen before. And that usually means big bucks.

Having been in the industry for over three decades, Rick Harrison has pretty much seen it all. He’s dealt with strange weapons, stolen items, antiques, and classic cars. Every day is filled with something new – and that’s what makes the show so fun.

When a man shows up with what’s called a railroad equilibristat, Harrison gets pretty excited saying the item is “really cool but I have no idea what it’s worth.”

So Harrison brings in his train expert to discuss what exactly the unique tool does. The expert describes the item as being used to measure the railroad elevation by mounting the tool inside the car.

“And as the railroad car went around the curb, if the rail elevation was out of kilter, it would move one way or the other,” he says. The expert also said it was designed by D.J. Whittmore, an esteemed owner of the Milwaukee Railroad. Additionally, he said the tool was in “excellent” condition. This means it could be worth anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.

Further, the expert said it was so interesting because he’d never seen one in person, which means they’re extremely rare. When it came down to negotiations, Harrison offered $1,000 – on the lower end, but he said he didn’t know what he could get for it. They made a deal at $1,100 and the man walked away a happy camper about it.

Rick Harrison Defends Pawnbrokers

While the “Pawn Stars” show has done a lot of good for pawnbrokers and their reputations, not all opinions about the business are positive. Rick Harrison recently spoke out about pawnbroking and the bad side of the business.

“I don’t know why it is, but if you have one pawnbroker in the news buying something stolen, it just automatically reiterates to every pawnbroker,” Harrison says.

He went on to add:

“But if you see a doctor in the news doing something bad, it’s just the one bad doctor! Pawn shops have been around for thousands of years. They were the number one form of consumer credit up until the 1950s.”

But his business took some flack for bad press over time.

“We were vilified by Hollywood,” Harrison says. “We were easy people to vilify.”

Still, the show does a lot of good for people in the business. Plus, “Pawn Stars” shows that it’s more than just a negotiation for money. Rather, it’s a way to educate people in a fun environment with some really knowledgeable experts.