This image of three suspended balls in a circle is a crest from the coat of arms of the Medici Family, which dates back to Renaissance Florence, Italy. The Medici’s were a 15th century Italian family of lenders & bankers who rose to considerable fame and fortune. They became so well known in the lending profession that other bankers, wanting to share in their success, adopted similar coats of arms, signs, shields, and symbols. The three golden balls remained the most popular so nearly all merchants involved in monetary lending adopted the symbol. The three balls came to symbolize the entire profession founded on the ethic of mutual trust. Although the Medici’s are gone, the tradition still holds and this three sphered crest still marks pawnshops today. The 3 pawn balls are one of the most easily recognized symbols worldwide.
As humankind’s oldest financial institution, pawn loans can be traced back at least 3000 years to ancient China and can be found in the Greek and Roman civilizations. We are not trying to invent a new way of helping people to get credit; we are merely improving it. You have certainly heard stories about pawnbrokers before, you just didn’t know it.
- The Nursery Rhyme “Pop Goes the Weasel” refers to pawning. A weasel is a shoemaker’s tool and to “pop” is to pawn. “That’s the way the money goes…Pop goes to weasel.”
- Queen Isabella of Spain pawned the crown jewels to finance Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America.
- Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of many; of seafaring men, of the falsely accused, of endangered travelers, of farmers, of children, of merchants and of pawnbrokers.
- The Bible offers references to pawnbroking. Deuteronomy 24:6-13 states: “Thou shalt not go into his house to fetch the pledge. Thou shalt stand abroad and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring the pledge…unto thee.”
- Pawnbrokers of Jesus’ time served two purposes. First they functioned as bankers and lenders. Secondly, they were currency exchangers.
- The word pawn originates from the Latin work “patinum” which means cloth or clothing. The French word “pan” refers to a skirt or blouse. In the early centuries, the principle assets people had were their clothes and borrowed money by pawning their clothing.
- Between 70 and 80% of all items pawned are redeemed
- There are between 12,000 and 14,000 pawnshops in operation throughout the United States today
The pawn industry came to American with the first settlers, and in the early part of this century, pawnbroking was regarded as the main source of consumer credit. With the rise of large consumer institutions, such as finance corporations, savings and loan associations, and credit unions the pawn shop is no longer the major source of consumer credit. But, the pawn show still plays a vital role in the area of providing consumer credit.
The general public needs to borrow small sums of money that other sources are not willing to provide them and this resulted in the rise of popularity of pawn shops. What chance do you think you would have in securing a $300.00 or smaller loan from financial institutions for a 90 day period? The cost of that paper work alone prohibits them from making such loans on a regular basis.
25 million households representing more than 75 million people do not have a bank account. People without bank accounts would find it extremely difficult, and most likely impossibly, to obtain a credit card or obtain a loan from any other legitimate source than a pawnbroker.