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PAWN HISTORY

Pawning has long been a source of capital for people in times of need, as well as a means of financing business ventures. Pawn brokering is not a new practice, nor does it appeal to just one social class. As humankind’s oldest financial institution, pawn loans can be traced back at least 3000 years to ancient China as well as early Greek and Roman civilizations. During the 14th Century, King Edward III of England is said to have frequented pawn stores in Europe. Queen Isabella is reported to have pawned her royal jewels to finance Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World.

Evalyn Walsh McLean, a wealthy socialite, pawned the legendary Hope Diamond for $100,000.00 to raise money when the Lindbergh baby was missing.

The traditional symbol of pawnbrokers is the three gold spheres with an arch connecting them. This stems from St. Nicholas, often referred to as the patron saint of pawnbrokers. He is said to have left three bags of gold so the daughters of a poor man could afford to marry. Later the tradition transformed the bags into three gold balls.

Others feel the symbol originated in 15th century Italy with the Medici family (who established a trading and banking empire). Legend has it that one of the Medicis in the employ of Emperor Charles the Great fought a giant and slew him with three sacks of rocks. The three sacks (or globes) later became part of their family crest, or coat of arms. The Medicis eventually became so well known and respected in the financial industry of the day, that other lenders copied their 3-golden-orbs logo… making it the universal trademark of pawnbrokers (the most notable of these being the House of Lombards in England).

 

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