LOANS, Hollis

I may be a little unobservant, but I seem to be seeing fewer and fewer pawnshops around New York City these days. I’m sure there are still some around, but most of what I see are vestigial remnants, like this painted sign at Jamaica and 93rd Avenues in Hollis.

This traditional symbol originated in the Middle Ages in the Italian province of Italy, where pawnshop banking originated and practitioners suspended three gold spheres, supposedly imitative of gold coins, above their shops. The symbol came to be associated with the Medici family, which adopted it as their family crest.

A spectacular example turned up in Harlem in 2014.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”


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2 Responses to LOANS, Hollis

  1. ron says:

    Instead of pawning jewelry etc. people borrow excessively on credit cards, or get usurious payday loans–probably why pawn shops are disappearing. Not even sure there is one in my area.

  2. P-j Greiner says:

    Another, perhaps more fanciful, story of the pawn shop symbol’s origin from “St. Nicholas, better known by a different name today, is actually the patron saint of pawnbrokers and bankers? Born in 280AD in Patara, fifty miles west of Myra in Turkey, to a wealthy Christian family, he was ordained into the priesthood at 19, quickly becoming renowned for his selfless acts of generosity. One of the most famous stories tells that he gave, even before he was ordained, three bags of gold coins to a desperate man, in order that he could save his daughters from poverty and have them marry. Over time, bankers and pawnbrokers alike would hang three golden balls above the doors of their shops in tribute to him.”

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