PLEDGE or PAWN, contracts. These words seem indifferently used to convey the
same idea. Story on Bailm. Sec. 286.
2. In the civil code of Louisiana, however, they appear not to have exactly the same meaning. It is there said that pledges are of two kinds, namely, the pawn, and the antichresis. Louis'. Code, art. 3101.
3. Sir William Jones defines a pledge to be a bailment of goods by a debtor to his creditor, to be kept till the debt is discharged. Jones' Bailm. 117; Id. 36. Chancellor Kent, 2 Kent's Com. 449, follows the same definition, and see 1 Dane's Abr. c. 17, art. 4. Pothier, De Nantissement, art. prelim. 1, defines it to be a contract by which a debtor gives to his creditor a thing to detain as security for his debt. The code Napoleon has adopted this definition, Code Civ. art. 2071, and the Civil Code of Louisiana has followed it. Louis. Code, 3100. Lord Holt's definition is, when goods or chattels are delivered to another as a pawn, to be security for money borrowed of him by the bailor and this, he adds, is called in Latin vadium, and in English, a pawn or pledge. Ld. Raym. 909, 913.
4. The foregoing definitions are sufficiently descriptive of the nature of a pawn or pledge but they are in terms limited to cues where a thing is given as a security for a debt; but a pawn may well be made as security for any other engagement. 2 Bulst. 306; Pothier, De Nantissement, n. 11. The definition of Domat is, therefore, more accurate, because it is more comprehensive, namely, that it is an appropriation of the thing given for the security of an engagement. Domat, B. 3, tit. 1, Sec. 1, n. 1. And, according to Judge Story, it may be defined to be a bailment of personal property, as security for some debt or engagement. Story on Bailm. Sec. 286.
5. The term pledge or pawn is confined to personal property; and where real or personal property is transferred by a conveyance of the title, as a security, it is commonly denominated a mortgage.
6. A mortgage of goods is, in the common law, distinguishable from a mere pawn. By a grant or a conveyance of goods in gage or mortgage, the whole legal title passes conditionally to the mortgagee; and if not redeemed at the time stipulated, the title becomes absolute at law, though equity will interfere to compel a redemption. But in a pledge a special property only passes to the pledges, the general property remaining in the pledger. 1 Atk. 167; 6 East, 25; 2 Caines' C. Err. 200; 1 Pick. 889; 1 Pet. S. C. B. 449 2 Pick. R. 610; 5 Pick. R. 60; 8. Pick. R. 236; 9 Greenl. R. 82; 2 N. H. Rep. 13; 5 N. H. Rep. 545; 5 John. R. 258; 8 John. R. 97; 10 John. R. 471; 2 Hall, R. 63; 6 Mass. R. 425; 15 Mass. R. 480. A mortgage may be without possession, but a pledge cannot be without possession. 5 Pick. 59, 60; and see 2 Pick. 607.
7. Things which are the subject of pledge or pawn are ordinarily goods and chattels; but money, negotiable instruments, choses in action, and indeed any other valuable thing of a personal nature, such as patent-rights and manuscripts, may, by the common law, be delivered in pledge. 10 Johns. R. 471, 475; 12 Johns. R. 146; 10 Johns. R. 389; 2 Blackf. R. 198; 7 Greenl. R. 28; 2 Taunt. R. 268; 13 Mass. 105; 15 Mass. 389; Id. 534; 2 Caines' C. Err. 200; 1 Dane's Abr. ch. 17, art. 4, Sec. ii. See Louis. Code, art. 3121.
8. It is of the essence of the contract, that there should be an actual delivery of the thing. 6 Mass. 422; 15 Mass. 477 14 Mass. 352; 2 Caines' C. Err. 200; 2 Kent's Com. 452; Bac. Abr. Bailment, B; 2 Rolle R. 439; 6 Pick. R. 59, 60; Pothier, De Nantissement, n. 8, 9; Louis. Code, 3129. What will amount to a delivery, is matter of law. See Delivery.
9. It is essential that the thing should be delivered as a security for some debt or engagement. Story on Bailm. Sec. 300. And see 3 Cranch, 73; 7 Cranch, 34; 2 John. Ch. R. 309; 1 Atk. 236; Prec. in Ch. 419; 2 Vern. 691; Gilb. Eq. R. 104; 6 Mass. 339; Pothier, Nantissement, n. 12; Civ. Code of Lo. art. 3119; Code Civ. art. 2076.
10. In virtue of the pawn the pawnee acquires, by the common law, a special property in the thing, and is entitled to the possession of it exclusively, during the time and for the objects for which it is pledged. 2 Bl. Com. 396; Jones' Bailm. 80; Owen R. 123, 124; 1 Bulst. 29; Yelv. 178 Cro. Jac. 244; 2 Ld. Raym. 909, 916; Bac. Abr. Bailment, B; 1 Dane's Abr. ch. 17, art. 4, SSSS 1, 6; Code Civ. art. 2082; Civ. Code of Lo. art. 3131. And he has a right to sell the pledge, when there has been a default in the pledger in complying with his engagement. Such a default does not divest the general property of the pawner, but still leaves him a right of redemption. But if the, pledge is not redeemed within the stipulated time, by a due performance of the contract for which it is a security, the pawnee has then a right to sell it, in order to have his debt or indemnity. And if there is no stipulated time for the payment of the debt, but the pledge is for an indefinite period, the pawnee has a right, upon request, to a prompt fulfillment of the agreement; and if the pawner refuses to comply, the pawnee may, upon demand and notice to the pawner, require the pawn to be sold. 2 Kent's Com. 452; Story on Bailm. 308.
11. The pawnee is bound to use ordinary diligence in keeping the pawn, and consequently is liable for ordinary neglect in keeping it. Jones' Bailm. 75; 2 Kent's Com. 451; 1 Dane's Abr. ch. 17, art. 12; 2 Ld. Raym, 909, 916; Domat B 1, tit. 1, Sec. 4, n. 1.
12. The pawner has the right of redemption. If the pledge is conveyed by way of mortgage, and thus passes the legal title, unless he redeems the pledge at a stipulated time, the title of the pledge becomes absolute at law; and the pledger has no remedy at law, but only a remedy in equity to redeem. 2 Ves. Jr. 378; 2 Caines' C. Err. 200. If, however, the transaction is not a transfer of ownership, but a mere pledge, as the pledger has never parted with the general title, he may, at law, redeem, notwithstanding he has not strictly complied with the condition of his contract. Com. Dig. Mortgage, B; 1 Pow. on Mortg. by Coventry & Land. 401, and notes, ibid. See further, as to the pawner's right of redemption, Story on Bailm. Sec. 345 to 349.
13. By the act of pawning, the pawner enters into an implied agreement or warranty that he is the owner of the property pawned, and that he has a good right to pass the title. Story on Bailm. Sec. 354.
14. As to the manner of extinguishing the contract of pledge or mortgage of personal property, see Story on Bailm. 359 to 366.