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Brass nutcracker with a Fagin shaped handle

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.79

Brass lever nutcracker cast in the shape of Fagin holding a money bag. This style and similar nutcrackers were mass produced for a long period by the Pearson-Page brass company in England, under several names. Fagin is a devil-like Jewish criminal from the novel, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, 1837-39. The characterization is antisemitic and exploits many negative stereotypes. Referred to as The Jew, Fagin is villainous, greedy and repulsive, with black nails and fangs for teeth, and kidnaps small children to make them thieves. Dickens shared a common prejudice of the day, saying that if he had a character who was a fence, he had to be a Jew because "that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew." Many adaptations try to sidestep Fagin's ethnic identity, or make him more of a comic figure, but his Jewishness is central to his depiction. This nutcracker is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

creation:  after 1883-before 1935
manufacture: Birmingham (England)
Household Utensils
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:30:18
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