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Roy Kirkham Toby jug of Fagin holding a coin bag

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.84

Toby jug depicting Fagin holding a small coin bag made by Roy Kirkham & Co. Limited in Staffordshire, England, during the latter half of the 20th century. Roy Kirkham started his self-named company in the 1970s, producing character and Toby jugs, figurines, and later, fine bone china. Toby jugs were first made in the mid-18th century and are ceramic pitchers usually modeled on full-bodied representations of popular characters while character jugs usually only feature the head and shoulders. Fagin is portrayed with a beard, a large nose, and thick eyebrows; 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.

creation:  1976-2010
manufacture: Tunstall (Stoke-on-Trent, England))
Household Utensils
Drinking vessels
Object Type
Pitchers (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2023-01-31 14:16:46
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