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Porcelain figure of Fagin counting his money by candlelight

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.74

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    Porcelain figure of Fagin counting his money by candlelight


    Brief Narrative
    Small, porcelain figurine portraying a scene from “Oliver Twist,” where Fagin is going through his box of stolen goods. In the scene, Fagin, who is repeatedly referred to as “the Jew,” is delighted that his previous partners in crime were executed, allowing him to keep the valuables for himself. Fagin is wearing a skull cap, and is portrayed with red hair, a beard, and a large nose; all 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 described in his first scene as 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 also 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 figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  1837-1899
    creation: England
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    bottom, center, impressed : 11370
    bottom, stamped, blue ink : Foreign
    bottom, stamped, maker’s mark, blue ink : [crown above two interlocking uppercase C’s]
    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

    Decorative Arts
    Physical Description
    Small, ceramic figurine shaped as a man with painted details. He wears a black skullcap and a long black coat with a red shirt and pants. There are green patches on the thighs of his pants. His features include: a large nose, light brown beard and hair, light red cheeks, and bright red lips. He is crouched on his knees, looking down at small piles of coins in each of his hands. In front of him is a small, rectangular opening in the floor with a small, open box full of coin bags sitting next to it. To the man’s left is a small candle. The figurine is kneeling on a small, oval, tan-colored base with his name engraved on the front. On the bottom of the base, a five-digit number is impressed in the center. Below is a blue maker’s mark comprised of a crown above two, crossed “Cs.” Near the edge is an illegible word in faded blue ink. There are flecks and traces of adhesive and black ink on the bottom of the base.
    overall: Height: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Depth: 2.750 inches (6.985 cm)
    overall : porcelain, glaze, paint, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    The figurine 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:
    2024-02-21 07:11:15
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