Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Pair of William Adams & Sons stoneware candlesticks with a scene of Oliver Twist meeting Fagin

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.77 a-b

Pair of candlesticks (a and b) decorated with two colored illustrations from popular Charles Dickens’ books, manufactured by William Adams & Sons, likely between 1896 and 1920. The first image is from “Old Curiosity Shop,” and was originally drawn by Hablot Knight Browne (aka Phiz). The image was first published in 1840, with the serialized release of the story. However, the caption is from a later illustration of the same scene by Charles Green, and was first published in a later edition of the novel in 1876. The second image is from “Oliver Twist,” and was originally drawn by George Cruikshank. It was first originally published in 1837, with the serialized release of the story. 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 described in his first appearance as hunched over a fire holding a toasting fork. This imagery reinforces the antisemitic stereotype of Jewish associations with the devil, due to the toasting fork’s 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. These candlesticks are two of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

manufacture:  1895-1920
manufacture: Staffordshire (England)
Furnishings and Furniture
Lighting devices
Object Type
Candlesticks (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-05-05 12:29:37
This page: