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Wooden walking stick knob carved as Fagin’s head

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.59

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    Wooden walking stick knob carved as Fagin’s head

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    Brief Narrative
    Wooden knob handle for a figural walking stick carved in the shape of a Jewish man's head with stereotypically Jewish features and a sinister appearance. The name Fagin is carved on the back, although it does not resemble the descriptions of the devil-like Jewish character Fagin from the novel, Oliver Twist, written by Charles Dickens in 1837-8. European artisans commonly adorned everyday items such as ceramics, toys, and even walking sticks, with caricatures of Jewish faces. The name Fagin may have been added to expand the market for the item. Items such as this walking stick knob are examples of racial antisemitism becoming part of everyday life. Fagin, referred to as The Jew, is a "villainous and repulsive" character with black nails and teeth like fangs, who kidnaps small children and trains them to be thieves. Dickens expressed a common 19th century prejudice, saying that if he had a character who was a fence, a dealer in stolen goods, he had to be a Jew because "that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew." This walking stick knob is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.This walking stick knob is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  approximately 1850-approximately 1899
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    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
    Knobs (handles) (aat)
    Physical Description
    Brown, finished wooden walking stick knob carved in the shape of a man’s head with finely detailed, stereotypically Jewish features: arched eyebrows, heavily hooded large eyes with wrinkled bags below, a very large, hooked nose, and a fleshy lower lip, which combine to give him a sinister appearance. He wears a kippah and has thick, swept back sidelocks and a thick, but short, beard, both nicely groomed. The beard extends outward, creating a short finger grip. The neck is smooth and expands into a semicircular collar that narrows to a cone shaped base. FAGIN is etched on the smooth collar back. There are traces of dark brown stain. Around the base is a silver colored metal band with a point at the bottom to insert into a cane shaft.
    overall: Height: 3.750 inches (9.525 cm) | Width: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Depth: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm)
    overall : wood, metal, stain

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The walking stick knob 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 18:30:17
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