- The first pawn shops emerged in ancient China more than 3,000 years ago.
- The funds for Christopher Columbus’ voyage of discovery to the Americas came mainly from the pawning of Queen Isabella of Spain’s jewels.
- In the late 19th and early 20th century there were almost as many pawn shops as pubs in the UK. That's a lot of pawn shops.
- Today, there are more than 12,000 pawn shops operating in the United States alone.
- It is estimated that approximately 25 million Americans do not have a bank account. Pawn shops serve this population by offering a source of short- term loans.
- Pawn shops are often referred to as the “Lombard” in European towns, in reference to the House of Lombard, a prominent lending family in medieval London.
- More than 70 percent of all items pawned in the US are reclaimed.
- US State laws mandate that customers pawning items provide detailed information including name, address, and date of birth, and show government issued ID.
- The symbol of the pawnbroker is three spheres suspended from a bar. Some connect this symbol to the Medici Family, legend being that one of the Medicis working for Emperor Charles the Great killed a giant with three sacks of rocks. The three balls or globes later became part of their family crest, and ultimately, the sign of pawnbroking.
- Saint Nicolas is the patron saint of pawnbrokers (and children and thieves); the symbolism of the three balls or spheres associated with pawnbrokers has also been connected with his gift of three bags of coins to the three daughters of a poor man so that they could marry.
Meet the Pawn Stars