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Metal ashtray in the form of a Jewish man holding a tray

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.47

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    Metal ashtray in the form of a Jewish man holding a tray

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    Brief Narrative
    Metal ashtray from the 19th century, in the form of a Jewish peddler holding an empty tray. The man has several stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men: a large nose, hooded eyes, sidelocks, and a beard. Peddlers were itinerant vendors who traveled the countryside and sold goods to the public. They usually travelled alone and carried their goods with them as they went. Peddling was a common occupation for young Jewish men during the 18th and 19th centuries. Most peddlers hoped their hard work would serve as a springboard to more lucrative and comfortable occupations. However, old prejudices formed an antisemitic stereotype of the Jewish peddler. The stereotype originated from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews. They were barred from owning land, farming, joining trade guilds, and military service. These restrictions limited Jews to the occupations of retail peddling, hawking, and moneylending. Additionally, medieval religious belief held that charging interest (known as usury) was sinful, and the Jews who occupied these professions were looked down upon, predominantly by European Christians. They were perceived as morally deficient and willing to engage in unethical business practices. The inability of Jews to legally hold other occupations, combined with Christians’ disdain for the professions Jews were allowed to practice, helped form the canard of the greedy Jew who exploited Gentiles. This canard was often visually depicted as a Jewish peddler, an untrustworthy figure that sold cut-rate items at inflated prices. Often, they were shown carrying a sack on their back or a tray around their midsection. This ashtray is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  1800-1899
    creation: Europe
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    top, in tray, engraved : Für Asche [For Ash]
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    The Katz Ehrenthal Collection is a collection of more than 900 objects depicting Jews and antisemitic and anti-Jewish propaganda from the medieval to the modern era, in Europe, Russia, and the United States. The collection was amassed by Peter Ehrenthal, a Romanian Holocaust survivor, to document the pervasive history of anti-Jewish hatred in Western art, politics and popular culture. It includes crude folk art as well as pieces created by Europe's finest craftsmen, prints and periodical illustrations, posters, paintings, decorative art, and toys and everyday household items decorated with depictions of stereotypical Jewish figures.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Ashtrays (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Silver colored metal ashtray in the form of a man lying on his back wearing a kippah and a long robe with wide sleeves. His head, which is lifted and titled to the left, has oversized ears and stereotypical Jewish features, including sidelocks, hooded eyes, a large nose, and a long wavy beard. He smiles and looks down at a rectangular tray, supported by a strap around his neck, that he holds over his waist. It is engraved with German text and curves up at both ends. The hem of his robe and his boots extend in front of it and curl upward. The back shows the mold impression and has 4 conical feet, 1 behind his chest, 2 near the sides behind tray, and 1 behind his legs.
    overall: Height: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm) | Width: 4.500 inches (11.43 cm) | Depth: 7.750 inches (19.685 cm)
    overall : metal

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    The ashtray was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by the Katz Family.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Special Collection
    Katz Ehrenthal Collection
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:12:35
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