THE FIRST PAWNBROKERS
Pawnbroking 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 3,000 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.
Traditionally, the pawnbroker’s symbol is three gold spheres hanging from a bar. This stems from St. Nicholas, often referred to as the patron saint of pawnbroking. He is reported to have left three bags of gold so the daughters of a poor man could afford to marry, thus saving them from a life of slavery or prostitution. Later the tradition transformed the bags into three gold balls, which became the symbol of pawnbrokers.