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Cast iron Fagin lamp holding a toasting fork / trident

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.73 a-b

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    Cast iron Fagin lamp holding a toasting fork / trident


    Brief Narrative
    Cast iron lamp in the shape of Fagin, a Jewish criminal from the novel, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, 1837-39. He holds a trident, referencing the toasting fork Fagin uses in the novel. He is called devil-like and often portrayed with a trident shaped toasting fork to emphasize this connection. His characterization is antisemitic and exploits many negative stereotypes. Referred to as The Jew, Fagin is introduced as "villainous and repulsive." His nails are black, his few teeth are fangs, he is greedy, vicious, and kidnaps small children to make them thieves. Dickens rationalized it by saying that if he had a character who was a fence for stolen goods, he had to be a Jew because "that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew." Many adaptations try to sidestep the complications of Fagin's ethnic identity, and make him more of a comic figure, but the unpleasant Jewish stereotypes are central to his depiction. This lamp base is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    manufacture:  approximately 1934-approximately 1936
    creation: England
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    a. back, center, engraved : Fagin from / Oliver Twist
    a. back, center, embossed : MADE IN / ENGLAND
    a. back, center, engraved : B 415 / RD / 798008
    a. back, bottom, engraved : Banksway
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    Manufacturer: Banksway
    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

    Furnishings and Furniture
    Lighting devices
    Object Type
    Lamps (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    a. Heavy, bronze painted, cast iron lamp in the shape of a devious looking Jewish man, Fagin, with an oversized toasting fork (b.) He stands in quarter right profile, left leg forward, knee bent. The right arm is at his side, and the left arm is held across his waist, the hand curled into a first around a central hole to hold the toasting fork. He looks to the right with a sinister grin on his fleshy lips. He has stereotyped Jewish features: hooded eyes under bushy eyebrows, a full beard, and a large hooked nose. He wears a head wrap, vest, scarf, ankle-length jacket with a handkerchief in the pocket, breeches, and flat shoes. A 20 inch high vertical metal tube is anchored to the back of the figure, with a brass colored metal lamp socket screwed to the top. The tube and figure are screwed into an oval, hollow base with a hole for the cord in the back. There is a section of insulated electrical wire inside the rod.
    b. Cast iron toasting fork lamp attachment resembling a trident, with a flat 3 tined head, soldered to the top of a long, narrow tubular handle. It slides into the hand of the lamp figurine.
    a: Height: 21.250 inches (53.975 cm) | Width: 7.250 inches (18.415 cm) | Depth: 5.625 inches (14.287 cm)
    b: Height: 12.625 inches (32.068 cm) | Width: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    a : cast iron, paint, metal, plastic
    b : cast iron

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The lamp base 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 18:30:18
    This page:

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