Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Knew A Guy With Three Balls

Pawnshops have been in the news lately, mostly due to people stealing and trying to use the shops as “fences” for what they lifted from homes. The shop owners, for their part, should be identifying every customer and every item, then holding it for something like five days in case there is a police report filed. Keeps everything on the up & up.

There was this cluttered pawn shop I used to patronize in Bridgeport CT when I was in high school. It was right across the street from the bus stop and had just everything you would want. I loved the place.

It had the pawnshop symbol hanging over the door, the three golden balls. Ask around and you will find different theories as to what they mean. “Two to one you won’t get it back” was one of the first I heard.

A more reasonable explanation, and one which consistently showed up in my research, concerns the Medici family. You can’t spell “medicine” without “medici” and, in fact, they had a whole bunch of physicians along the line, each generation hanging its shingle in Florence, Italy.

Supposedly, these equally gifted moneylenders had, in their coat of arms, three gilded pills. It didn’t take long before the three pills also became the symbol of their trade as pawnbrokers. Or, at least, that’s what they tell me. They (the Internet) told me a lot of things, but this one seemed better than most.


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