Originating in the late 15th century as Anglo-Latin pendulum, the word "pawn" refers to "something given or deposited as security" in exchange for money borrowed. "Pawn" is derived from "platinum" which is a Latin word for clothing. In the early days of pawning, it
involved exchanging clothing, an item that held the most value, for money.
Early Origins of Pawnshops
In the middle ages, the House of Lombard, which owned and operated a few pawn shops throughout England used three golden spheres as a symbol on all signage and correspondence. Today these three golden spheres are still used by many pawn shops. Over the ages, the pawn industry has grown substantially.
In time strict guidelines were developed to protect both the pawnbroker and the customers. The pawnbroker's Act of 1872 was developed for the protection of pawnshop owners and pawnbrokers against the accidental purchase of stolen items. The act also stipulated the amount of interest that could be charged per contract.
The pawnshop industry began to pick up in the United States in about the 19th Century. The industry was categorized by the new industrial manufacturing sector which traditionally paid its growing workforce very low wages. The pawnshop was therefore instrumental in bridging the gap between paydays for workers, as pawnshops would provide cash for necessities such as food, rent, and utilities.
Today you will probably find a pawnshop on almost every street corner, servicing communities and people from all walks of life with much-needed cash when they need it most.