In the west, pawnbrokering existed in the Ancient Greek and Roman Empires. Most contemporary Western law on the subject is derived from the Roman jurisprudence. As the empire spread its culture, pawnbrokering went with it. Likewise, in the east, the business model existed in China 3,000 years no different than today, through the ages strictly regulated by Imperial or other Authorities.
A pawnbroker is an individual or business (pawnshop or pawn shop) that offers secured loans to people, with items of personal property used as collateral. The word pawn is derived from the Latin pignus, for pledge, and the items havinf been pawned to the broker are themselves called pledges or pawns, or simply the collateral.
The pawnbrokers' symbol is three spheres suspended from a bar. The three sphere symbol is attributed to the Medici family of Florence, Italy, owing to it's symbolic meaning of Lombard. This refers to the Italian province of Lombardi, where pawn shop banking originated under the name of Lombard banking. The three golden spheres were originally a symbol medieval Lombard merchants hung in front of their houses, and not the arms of the medici family. It has been conjectured that the golden spheres were originally three flat yellow effigies of byzants, or gold coins, laid heraldically upon a sable field, but that they were converted into spheres to better attract attention. Throughout the Middle Ages, coats of arms bore three balls, orbs, plates, discs, coins, and more as symbols of monetary success.
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