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Royal Doulton ceramic figurine of Fagin dressed in black

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.81

Dickens Ware series figurine of Fagin, designed by Leslie Harradine, and made by Royal Doulton in England, likely in the 1920s or 1930s. Royal Doulton is an English ceramic manufacturer that specializes in artistically styled and decorated ceramics and tableware. 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. 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 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:  approximately 1920-1939
manufacture: England
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-05-23 15:38:51
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