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photo credit:  5th Color

photo credit: 5th Color

History of pawn

For centuries, people have turned to pawning as a source of capital.  Pawn loaning can be traced back at least 3,000 years to ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Even the fateful trip of Christopher Columbus to the new world some say has aconnection to the pawn industry. Many believe Queen Isabella of Spain pawned her royal jewels to finance the voyage.  Despite obstacles like usury laws limiting interest charged on loans during the Middle Ages,  out of necessity the popularity of pawn brokers persisted and the fundamental practices of the pawn business remain unchanged to this day: pawnbrokers loan money to people based on the value of items they pledge as collateral.

The pawnbrokers' symbol is three spheres suspended from a bar. The three sphere symbol is attributed to the Medici family of Florence, Italy, owing to its symbolic meaning of Lombard. This refers to the Italian province of Lombardy,where pawn shop banking originated under the name of Lombard banking.  The three golden spheres were originally a symbol medieval Lombard merchants hung in front of their houses.

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of pawnbrokers. The symbol has also been attributed to the story of Nicholas giving a poor man's three daughters each a bag of gold so they could get married.

credit: Wikipedia