History of Pawn
The public’s captivation with the pawn business is growing significantly each year. Popular television shows such as “Pawn Stars” and “Hard Core Pawn” offer an inside look into the world of collateral lending. Collateral loans are no longer taboo and the history behind pawn shops is extensive and fascinating.
As long as 3,000 years ago in Imperial China, it was quite common to see pawn shops. Greece and Rome also boasted quite a few establishments. Queen Isabella of Spain supposedly pawned some of the Crown jewels to pay for Columbus’s voyages and King Edward III of England reportedly frequented Lombard’s pawnshop in the 14th century. Even the Nursery Rhyme, “Pop Goes the Weasel,” refers to pawning; a weasel is derived from “weasel and stoat”, meaning coat. When people hit hard times, they would pawn their suit or coat from their ‘Sunday best’. Pop was a slang term for pawning, hence, “That’s the way the money goes, Pop goes the weasel.”
There are many explanations as to how pawnshops received their iconic three-sphere symbol. Some attribute it to a figure found on a Roman coin used in Israel, but the most common reasoning comes from the “patron saint of pawnbrokers and bankers,” Saint Nicholas. Regarded for his selfless acts of generosity, folklore states that he gave three bags of gold to a man struggling to save his daughters from poverty. Thereafter, bankers and pawnbrokers started to hang three golden orbs above the doors of their shops in tribute to Saint Nicolas. The famous Lombard and Medici families of Europe, both significant moneylenders of their time, adopted the three-sphere symbol as part of their family crests. The symbol came to stand for ethics and stability.
Since the 1980’s, pawnbrokers have become an accepted extension of the banking system, providing clients with short term collateral loans that do not pose the same obstacles as other more traditional moneylending institutions. According to the National Pawnbrokers Association, there are more than 30 million pawnshop customers every year. “Today, pawnshops are appealing and welcoming places to do business,” Jordan Tabach-Bank, CEO of Beverly Loan Company, explained. “The stigma that has followed us around for centuries is being replaced by the reality of our profession. We’re here to help clients who need a short term cash infusion, without putting their credit at risk.”
The Loan Companies is a non-recourse lending institution, with more than 100 years of experience in the pawn industry and multiple locations nationwide. Should you wish to learn more about receiving a collateral loan against gold and diamond jewelry, luxury watches and fine art, please call or email your nearest location today.