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A Guide to the History of Pawn Shops | Blog | Pawn America MN & WI

A Guide to the History of Pawn Shops

If you’ve ever been in need of cash, you may have visited a pawn shop to sell an old item or use it as collateral for a loan. Though many people turn to these businesses for some quick cash, very few of them know just how these companies got their start. Believe it or not, this profession began more than 2000 years ago. The following guide outlines this long and interesting history in more detail. 

The Origins of Pawnbroking

The earliest records of pawnbroking were found in China, dating all the way back to 206 BC. The records indicate that citizens would turn to pawn shops to secure loans on their personal property. Typically, individuals could take up to three years to pay off loans with a very low-interest-rate that hovered around 3%.

The Middle Ages

Over time, pawning made its way to Europe. However, pawnbroking didn’t truly take off until the Middle Ages, when the Norman Conquest introduced the practice to England. It was also a very popular trend in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. In 1515, the Catholic Church officially approved of this profession, as Pope Leo X’s luxurious lifestyle led to him pawning his palace furniture. The Catholic Church simply required that reasonable interest rates be given to the poor.

The Story of the Symbol

The pawnbroker’s symbol is widely recognized as three gold spheres hanging from a bar. This is believed to be the symbol of St. Nicholas, who left three bags of gold to the daughters of a poor man. With the money, these women could afford to marry and thus, they avoided a life of slavery. Today, pawn shops continue to display the symbol and help individuals who find themselves in difficult financial situations.

If you want to sell your unique items or find a unique item, visit the experts at  Pawn America. Based in Burnsville, MN, this pawn shop is committed to providing unparalleled service and top-caliber products. Serving the community for more than 30 years, they buy and sell everything you need, including electronics, jewelry, and collectibles. If you have any questions, call the team today at (952) 435-7296. Visit their web site for more information about pawning. You can also like them on Face Book for the latest updates.