It’s always interesting to know what was responsible for pawn shops. Is a pawn shop something that has always been around, or was it just invented? When visiting a pawn shop’s website, like Majorpawn
, this is something that some tend to wonder, but they never really get the chance to look it up. So, today, we are here to tell you about the history nesting behind those pawn shops we see in almost every town.
How Old are Pawn Shops?
Would you believe us if we told you 3000 years old? That’s right, pawn broking dates back 3,000 years ago and they originated in China. It was originally operated by the Buddhist monasteries, who would loan money to peasants in return for simple possessions.
At this time, both interests rates and the time period of the loan were a bit more forgiving, as they would allow up to three years for repayment at an interest rate as low as 3%.
The Symbol and Operations
The symbol for pawn shops in China early on was the shape of a bat holding a coin below it, and that is the same as it is today. In the West, pawn broking was also operating throughout Ancient Greece and The Roman Empire.
In the Middle Ages pawn broking had begun to intrigue a new wealthier clientele with “Lombard Banking,” providing loans to Kings and Queens for such things as funding wars, financing voyages, and even castle renovations. In 1338, King Edward III was forced to pawn his jewels in order to fund the English army to go to war against France's financially backed and military resourced army in the“Hundred Years War.”
Although French forces were far superior in many ways, they were stopped and King John of France was forced to accept a treaty. However, his son Charles V was able to reclaim most of the territory lost to the English. In 1415, King Henry V also pawned his crown and jewels to renew the war and conquer Normandy.
First Pawn Brokers
The Lombards were the first known pawnbrokers in England, and by providing such loans to kings and queens their reach grew throughout the territory. The Lombards were enterprising traders and merchants from Milan and Lombardy, provinces of Italy. They later became known as bankers, money-changers, moneylenders, and of course pawnbrokers.
The symbol used by the Lombards were three golden circles hung outside the houses of pawn and was very important as most in those days were illiterate. This later morphed into three golden spheres.
This symbol is said to have numerous important meanings. One meaning was that it represented the three sacks of gold St. Christopher (the patron of pawn broking) gave to a peasant to save his three daughters from prostitution. Another is a joke by used by local pawn shop owners, “2 to 1 odds, you won't get your stuff back.” This symbol is still in use today.
Isn’t it hard to believe that pawn shops have been around for over 3,000 years? When you look at places like Majorpawn.com, this is something you would have never guessed.