Mississippi Gulf Coast's Premier Pawn Shop

Ever wonder how pawn shops came to be? Join us on this history lesson on the origins of the pawn business! 

The Symbol 
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 the symbol which medieval Lombard merchants hung in front of their houses, and not the arms of the Medici family. It has been conjectured that the golden spheres were originally three flat yellow effigies of byzants, or gold coins, laid heraldically upon a sable field, but that they were converted into spheres to better attract attention.

Most European towns called the pawn shop the "Lombard". The House of Lombard was a banking family in medieval London, England. According to legend, a Medici employed by Charlemagne slew a giant using three bags of rocks. The three ball symbol became the family crest. Since the Medici's were so successful in the financial, banking, and money lending industries, other families also adopted the symbol. Throughout the Middle Ages, coats of arms bore three balls, orbs, plates, discs, coins and more as symbols of monetary success.

 

 

 

One of the less well-known legends about the origin of the trademark sign was it that it was based on a Roman coin used in Israel – from A.D.68 onwards, after a revolt against the Roman invaders. Called the ‘Silver Shekel’, it featured a picture of three pomegranates, on a common stalk, on one side.

 

 


The Origin's of Pawnbroking 
As mankind’s oldest financial institution, Pawnbroking carries on a tradition with a rich history. Pawnbroking can be traced back at least 3,000 years to ancient China, and has been found in the earliest written histories of Greek and Roman civilizations. During the chaotic Middle Ages with depressions and economic hardship common, pawnshops provided a necessary means of survival for a huge number of citizens.

 

The word pawn originates from the Latin word "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.


Fun Facts

 

  • "Pop! Goes the Weasel", nursery rhyme is about pawning. A weasel is a shoemaker's tool and to "pop" is to pawn.

 

  • Queen Isabella of Spain  offered to pawn the crown jewels to finance Columbus’ voyage to America. However, the Spanish government agreed to back Columbus, saving the Queen from having to part with her beloved crown.

 

  • King Edward III of England is said to have frequented pawn stores in Europe.

 

  • Evelyn Walsh McLean pawned the Hope Diamond to pay her mortgage, for $100,000. Today it is estimated at $250,000,000.