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A pawn shop is the oldest financial institution in the world. Pawnbroking can be traced back 3000 years to ancient China and has been found in the earliest written histories of Greek and Roman Civilizations, and continued to be the leading form of consumer credit until the 1950's. A pawn is a loan secured by property and held for a determined amount of time, giving the customer an opportunity to pay back what was borrowed plus interest. In today's society, many people routinely have the need to borrow small sums of money for a short period of time (30-90 days). Traditional lenders, such as banks, are unable to provide these small short-term loans.
The symbol for the pawn shop, 3 golden balls, dates back to Christopher Columbus' journey to the Americas which was financed by Queen Isabella pawning the crown jewels. The largest pawn shop in that day was owned by the House of Lombard, which operated many pawn shops around Europe. The logo for the House Lombard was 3 golden balls, which is the universal symbol for pawn shops today.