Pawn shops first turned up more than 3,000 years ago. A pawn shop used to provide credit to the peasants while being regulated by Imperial authorities. While pawnshops once had an ugly disgrace for taking advantage of the poor, its business model was also misunderstood. The upturn in the pawnbroking industry came during the 1980’s credit boom, and it continued to thrive today serving as the most convenient way to raise cash in short-term financial needs.
Pawnbrokers, including your trustworthy local pawnbroker in London, come with a fascinating historical background. If you are interested to know, take a look at some of the facts given below that you probably did not know about pawn shops:
1. Pawnbroking for voyage
Queen Isabella of Spain was reportedly known to have pledged her crown to fund the first journey of Christopher Columbus to the New World in 1492. Recently, this notion has been deflated, and it is said that Queen Isabella already had pawned many of her jewellery before Columbus was ready to sail.
The pawned jewellery items of the queen included a necklace adorned with ruby and pearls that she received as a wedding gift from King Ferdinand and the crown of Castile. While Queen Isabella pawned her jewellery to pay for the campaigns against the Moors and to raise money for the Spanish Inquisition, it is also believed that she may have pawned some small pieces to Columbus. This was an endorsement that brought many other investors like the Santa Hermandad Police Organisation.
2. The Patron Saint of Pawnbrokers
The patron saint of pawnbrokers, Saint Nicholas preserves a legacy as one of the most kind-hearted human beings to have ever existed on the earth. As the story goes, Saint Nicholas who was known for his benevolence gave three bags of gold each to three impoverished girls so that they could get married.
It is also often believed that he dropped the bags in secret, down the chimney so that no one could know the benefactor.
3. The Symbol of Pawnbrokers
The three gold spheres hanging from a bar is the international symbol of pawnbrokers. While there are many stories related to the origin of this symbol, some people associate it with the famous Medici family of bankers, monarchs and also, Popes. As the legend goes, a member of this clan killed a giant with the help of three bags of rocks.
Some believe that the three balls represent these three bags of rocks, while others say the three spheres are symbolic of the story of Saint Nicholas and his three bags of gold.
4. The Pawn song ‘Pop! Goes the Weasel’
The nursery classic ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ dates back to at least the mid-19th century. In one of the British versions, the song seems to be tied to pawnbroking.
Take a Look at these lines:
‘Up and down the City Road
In and out of the Eagle
That’s the way that money goes
Pop! Goes the Weasel’
Here, the word ‘Eagle’ may refer to the popular Eagle Pub of London and ‘weasel’ has been assumed to be the ‘Cockney slang’ for jackets. Thus, the song may indicate that a patron has spent much on alcohol and so, had to pawn his coat.
5. Jewellery is the most common pawned item
Although the assets accepted as collateral may vary from one pawnbroker to another, the most common item that people consider to pawn and also universally accepted is jewellery. Gold, silver, diamonds and other precious gems possess inherent value.
Moreover, jewellery items often bear a sentimental value, and it ensures that customers will return to reclaim them by paying off the loan amount and the interest due.