The three golden-colored balls denoting a pawnshop are a long-standing tradition from Europe. It is supposed to derive from the crest of the Medici family or the Lombards (sources differ), who among other things were pawnbrokers. Legend has it that the crest comes from an ancestor fighting in the armies of Charlemagne who fought a giant and slew him with three sacks of rocks. The three balls or globes later became part of their family crest, and ultimately, the sign of their business, pawnbroking. In the Middle Ages, when most people couldn't read, an easily recognizable symbol like this was very helpful to the business.