This sign is said to
have been used on the coat of arms of the Medici family and
thus comes from Italy of the Middle Ages. The Medicis were extremely rich and great
lenders of money. For this reason and have become symbols for pawnshops, pawnbrokers.
For alchemists the sign commonly signified oil.
Compare with , the sign for the suit of clubs in the deck of common playing cards. Note that clubs often are associated with money.