About Pawnbroking

A Little Pawnshop History
Pawnbroking can be traced back at least 3,000 years to ancient China, and was well-established in the Greek and Roman Empires.  The "Three Golden Balls" symbol you see on many pawnshops originates from the crest of the Medici family of Lombardi, Italy, who were prominent pawnbrokers in the Middle Ages.  The symbol of the three balls dates from a time when most of the population could not read or write, and many businesses used some sort of symbol instead of words to identify themselves to their customers.

And of course, there's the story of Queen Isabella of Spain, who pawned her royal jewels to finance Columbus' first voyage and his accidental discovery of the New World.  In America, pawn shops were a fixture by Colonial times, and for 200 years were the most common source of small loans until consumer credit (credit cards) became widespread in the 1960's. 

Now, with the economic recession and the tightening of consumer credit by banks, pawnshops are once again filling the demand for short-term loans for an increasing number of people, many who have never been in a pawnshop before.  Also, the popularity of a couple of reality TV pawnshop shows has increased public awareness that a pawnshop is a great place to buy, sell or trade a wide variety of items, from the mundane to the bizarre.