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The History of Pawn

By Jack Daugherty, Founder

Since Tuesday is National Pawnbrokers Day, it has prompted me to reflect on the history of our business. Pawn has been around for several thousand years.  The first businesses existed in China about 3,000 years ago where pawn shops were heavily regulated by imperial or other authorities.


Pawnbroking can be found in the written history of Greek and Roman civilizations. Monarchs raised money for armies and other endeavors by pawning their valuables, and it is rumored that Queen Isabella pawned her crown jewels to finance Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the new world.


Throughout the ages, three gold balls have been the universal symbol for pawnbrokers.  The symbol was originally part of the coat of arms of the Italian Medici family - a family of bankers and lenders with considerable wealth and fame in the 15th century. The symbol became so famous that other lenders adopted a similar coast of arms in hopes of sharing in the Medici’s financial success. As pawnbrokers began to open branches abroad, the symbol spread to the European West and eventually to America where pawnbrokers still display the symbol today.

The pawn industry has changed throughout the years. As Cash America’s founder, I began our company with the vision of a clean, well-lit, friendly, customer-oriented place for hard-working consumers to get short-term loans. Until then, the perception of pawnshops wasn’t always the greatest, but I wanted to change that. We have grown since opening our first shop in 1984 and now offer more than just pawn loans. Our services include consumer loans, installment loans, layaway, auto equity loans and tax filing services, just to name a few.


We’ve enjoyed watching the pawn industry grow and change and look forward to helping our customers meet financial needs for years to come.


1 Comment

  1. 1 selling your gold 01 May
    Very informative and great to know how pawn started.

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