Mark the Historian: The Pawn Stars Prodigy You Need to Know

The main characters on Pawn Stars are certainly entertaining and all. But, it’s the experts, aired occasionally, who really add oomph to the entire show. They are wise, often gregarious, and all-around friendly, just like Mark Hall-Patton.

A mere museum director, Mark became an unlikely celebrity. His charm and wisdom have not only earned him international fame but also the apt nickname: The Beard of Knowledge.

Whether you are his fan or a Pawn Stars buff, you’re probably curious to find out just who is Mark the historian on Pawn Stars?

Who Is the History Expert on Pawn Stars?

Mark Hall-Patton got interested in history and museums, in particular, from age 8. At this tender age, he would set up make-shift museum displays at his parent’s house, read old books, and try to interpret artwork for his younger siblings.

He studied museum administration and began working at the Bowers Museum in Orange County. Later, he headed the Orange Community Historical Society and the Anaheim Museum.

Hall-Patton admits that although he loves his career as a museum administrator, his gig and day-to-day life are pretty humdrum. So, he’d never in his wildest dreams thought he would be on a very popular TV show that would earn him celebrity status.

Mark Was Skeptical About Pawn Stars

After many years working in the city of San Luis Obispo, the appeal of Las Vegas finally caught up with him, and Mark moved to Sin City.

One day while going about his job in Nevada, the museum expert received a call from a Pawn Stars producer asking whether he’d be available to go on camera and talk about an old West Point jacket.

Mark declined and suggested that an antique expert, not a historian like him, would do a better job, but the producer was adamant. After filming that pilot episode, the bearded historian was sure no one would be interested in watching pawn shop deals and discussions about old uniforms and antiques.

“I thought a show about a pawn shop would be uninteresting. I said to myself, OK, this will be a one-time shot, and nobody is ever going to watch a show about a Vegas pawn shop.”

Of course, he was wrong! 254 episodes later and still going, Pawn Stars now airs in 32 languages across more than 150 countries, and just like that, Mark ‘the Beard Of Knowledge’ became an international celebrity.

The affectionate nickname, the Beard of Knowledge, was given to him by Rick Harrison.

“I only know one rock-star museum curator and that is Mark,” says Rick.

“The guy must have some sort of Xerox machine behind his eyeballs. He knows so much stuff and that’s why I gave him the name,” he added.

Mark Is A Voracious Reader and Researcher

If you think Mark is smart, it is no coincidence. The historian prides himself in reading widely about everything and anything.

He once boasted of having more than 20,000 history books in his house. In his many years of working in the museum scene, Hall-Patton has read everything from Native American history dating as far back as 238 years, American fraternal societies, world utopias, postcards and mails, guns, housing, clothing, and his favourite, bridges. Whew! that’s a lot.

“I am an omnivore when it comes to history,” Mark admits.

Mark is particularly fascinated by bridges and bridge-making, and it’s a subject he has lectured widely on.

“Learning how bridges are made has always fascinated me. Aside from that, I am also interested in Western mining and obscure history.”

His advice for anyone looking to pursue a career in museum history is pretty sound. The veteran historian recommends getting your M.A. so you can go far in your profession.

But, as he rightly puts it, a degree alone will not be enough to help you operate a museum, so you need some experience, which you can get through volunteering.

“Get out there as you are working on your degree and do loads of volunteer work. In the next 10-15 years, there will be a lot of retirements and, therefore, high demand for professionals in history museums.

Why Doesn’t Mark Not Give Prices On Pawn Stars?

Aside from his smarts, wide brim Amish-style hats, square glasses, and overgrown gray beard, Mark is famous for not giving the prices of items he authenticates.

Why so?

“I will not do that because I do not want people to get the (wrong) impression that you can go to a museum and ask how much something is worth. I believe historical artefacts are priceless,” Mark explained.

He further revealed that it is illegal for museums to price items that people donate.

All in all, Patton-Hall admits that he honestly does not know the worth of the items he authenticates, so he cannot accurately put a price on them.

What is Mark Doing Now?

Mark retired after working as a museum administrator for decades and is now doing consultancy work and, of course, making cameo appearances on Pawn Stars.

Interestingly, he did not get a paycheck for his gig on the show because Clark County Museum has strict rules about earning an extra paycheck while working for the county.

The retired historian says the reason he agreed to stay on the show was to advertise the public museum. The good news is that it worked, seeing as museum attendance increased by a whopping 50 percent.

Pawn Stars has also been generously donating to the art museum for years, so Mark doesn’t see the need to ask for a paycheck from them now that he is retired.

Clark County declared May 4 as Mark Hall-Patton Day in honor of the historian’s contributions.

Good job, Mark! We certainly wish you a happy retirement.