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5 Fascinating Pawnbroking Facts


5 Fascinating Pawnbroking Facts

You may think you know all there is to know about pawnbrokers, from how pawning works to the history of pawnbroking. But there are some fascinating facts about the money lending service which you may not know! Whether you’re planning on using our pawnbroking service or you simply want to expand your general knowledge for your next pub quiz, read on to discover five fun facts about pawnbroking.

Pawnbroking is older than many people realise 

While pawnbroking is believed to have been practised in Britain since the 11th century, the money lending service is actually much older than that. In fact, pawnbroking is believed to be over 3,000 years old, although the first evidence of pawning dates back to the 5th century in China. It was used by Ancient Chinese labourers to secure short-term credit. Of course, nowadays pawning is done by people from all different walks of life, and things like high-end pawning have become more popular in recent years. 

Christopher Columbus’ expedition was funded by pawnbroking

Without pawnbroking, Christopher Columbus may never have done his famous expedition in the 15th century! You may already know that his voyages were funded by Queen Isabella I of Castile (which is now Spain and Portugal), but it was going to be an expensive voyage, which meant that despite being a queen, she needed to pawn her possessions to raise enough funds for the journey. It was once believed that she pawned the majority of her jewellery to raise enough money, including gifts from her husband, King Ferdinand. But this has been debunked, and she in fact pawned her smaller and less valuable jewels — although these will likely have been of great value!

There is a patron saint of pawnbrokers

There are patron saints to protect numerous types of professions, places, and groups of people, and one of the groups represented by a patron saint are pawnbrokers. In fact, the saint protecting those working in pawnbroking is none other than St. Nicholas, also known as the saint Santa Claus is inspired by! It is believed that he is the patron saint of pawnbroking in part down to his generosity. Amongst many other good deeds, he supposedly gave three bags of gold to a poor man who wanted his daughters to marry, but didn’t have the money to make it happen. As well as being the patron saint of pawnbroking, he is also the saint of children, sailors, the falsely accused, the unmarried, and pharmacists — that’s quite the varied collection! 

The pawnbroking symbol has disputed origin

If you’ve visited a H&T pawnbrokers before, you may have noticed the symbol at the end of our sign. These three circles in the shape of an inverted triangle are the globally recognised pawnbroking symbol. But where did it come from? Well, there are several theories behind the creation of this symbol. 

Many claim it can be traced back to the 15th century from the Medici family, a famous Italian family from Florence. The family included prominent bankers, politicians, and even royalty. Legend has it that a member of the family was killed by a giant with three large bags of rocks, and that is what the three circles represent. However, others claim that the three circles represent the aforementioned three bags of gold given to a poor man by St. Nicholas. Whatever the origins, it’s safe to say that the symbol has become synonymous with pawnbroking all over the globe. 

Pawnbroking is referenced in “Pop Goes the Weasel”

One of the most well-known British nursery rhymes, “Pop Goes the Weasel”, may well be partly based on pawnbroking! Pop is known to be cockney slang for pawn (pawnbrokers are sometimes known as “popshops” in London), and weasel is believed to mean coat, so the song could be about pawning a coat! 

If you’re interested in using our pawnbroking service (whether you’re looking to pawn jewellery like Queen Isabella I or even a coat like in “Pop Goes the Weasel”), pop into your local H&T branch anytime we’re open and our friendly team will be more than happy to help you out. 

And if you want to  get a quote from the comfort of your sofa, you can also use our online pawnbroking service and find out your quote within 30 minutes.*

*30 minutes applies Monday - Friday during office hours only (9am - 5.30pm).


Representative Example: Total amount of credit: £200 for 6 months. Total amount payable in one instalment: £325.88. Total charge for credit: £125.88(Interest Only). Interest rate 125.9% pa(fixed). Maximum APR 165.5 %APR. Maximum payment term up to 6 months.

Pawnbroking Loans are secured on your items, if the loan is not repaid it will be sold to pay the debt.

Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for Consumer Credit. (Please note that Cheque Cashing, FX, retail purchases and sales are not regulated by the FCA.)

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By H&T Pawnbrokers