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Royal Doulton Dickens Ware dinner plate decorated with an image of Fagin

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.69

Dickens Ware series plate featuring an image of Fagin, made by Royal Doulton in England during the 20th century. Royal Doulton is an English ceramic manufacturer that specializes in artistically styled, decorated ceramics and tableware. In 1889, Charles Noke joined the company. He later introduced Doulton Series Ware, plates, and other items with decorations based on characters from popular culture. In 1908, Royal Doulton introduced the Dickens Ware series based on Charles Dickens’ characters, which was originally produced until 1937. A second run of the series was produced mid-century. On the plate, Fagin is portrayed with a beard and a large nose; both stereotypical physical features attributed to Jewish men. In “Oliver Twist,” Fagin is the villainous leader of a gang of children whom he has instructed in the ways of criminality. He attempts to corrupt the protagonist, Oliver, in the same manner. In the novel, Fagin is first seen hunched over a fire holding a toasting fork, imagery that reinforces the antisemitic stereotype of Jewish associations with the devil, due to its resemblance of a pitchfork. He is repeatedly referred to as “the Jew” in the book and is emphasized as a greedy, miserly, and cowardly character, all traits aligning with common antisemitic stereotypes. However, in a later edition of the novel, Dickens reduced his use of “the Jew,” substituting it for pronouns or other phrases. Even in this later version, Fagin is still repeatedly, and negatively, referred to as “the Jew” and remains emblematic of multiple antisemitic canards. Later writings by Dickens portrayed Jews in a more positive light, however, the reprehensible Fagin is his most remembered Jewish character. This plate is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

creation:  1908-approximately 1975
creation: England
Household Utensils
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2023-01-31 14:16:43
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