The Nursery Rhyme "Pop Goes The Weasel" refers to pawning. A weasel is a shoemaker's tool and to "pop" is to pawn. Hence: "That's the way the money goes... Pop goes the weasel."
Queen Isabella of Spain pawned the crown jewels to finance Columbus' voyage to America.
The word pawn originates from the Latin word "patinum" which means cloth or clothing. The French word "pan" refers to a skirt or blouse. In early centuries, all people had was the clothes they wore, and they borrowed money against them.
One of the less well-known legends about the origin of the trademark sign was it that it was based on a Roman coin used in Israel – from A.D.68 onwards, after a revolt against the Roman invaders. Called the ‘Silver Shekel’, it featured a picture of three pomegranates, on a common stalk, on one side.
The bible offers references to pawning. In Deuteronomy 24:6-13 it states: "No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge, for he taketh a man's life to pledge". What this means is: you should not take as a pledge anything a man needs to make a living.
Did you know that St. Nicholas, better known by a different name today, is actually the patron saint of pawnbrokers and bankers? 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. Over time, bankers and pawnbrokers alike would hang three golden balls above the doors of their shops in tribute to him. Saint Nicholas’s legendary kindness caused his transformation, first in Germany, then in France as Father Christmas, before Dutch Protestant settlers in New Amsterdam (New York City) came up with the idea of Santa Claus, which became popular worldwide.