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Ceramic box with an image of Fagin

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.86 a-b

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    Ceramic box with an image of Fagin


    Brief Narrative
    Ceramic box with a lid featuring an image of Fagin’s head made in England by Lancasters Ltd., likely in the first half of the 20th century. The company produced pottery in England from 1896 until 1968, under several different names. On the lid, 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. 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. This ceramic box is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    manufacture: England
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    bottom, center, above the crown, stamped, black ink : ENGLISH WARE
    bottom, center, below the crown, stamped, black ink : LANCASTERS / LTD. / HANLEY / ENGLAND
    bottom, lower left corner, impressed : 424

    top, within image, on collar, handwritten, green paint : FAGIN
    top, within image, lower right corner, handwritten, green paint : T.H.S
    underside, right, above the crown, stamped, black ink : ENGLISH WARE
    underside, right, below the crown, stamped, black ink : LANCASTERS / LT.D. / HANLEY / ENGLAND
    underside, lip, stamped, black ink : MODELLED AND DESIGNED BY T. H. SANDLAND
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    Manufacturer: Lancasters Ltd.
    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

    Physical Description
    a: Small, rectangular, open-topped, white ceramic box base with lid (b.) Narrow vertical columns are impressed on the exterior, two on each short end and four on the long sides. The columns cover the upper three-quarters of each surface, while a repeating band of triangles fills the lower quarter. These decorative elements are separated by a horizontal line that rings the base. The bottom of the base has a raised edge with an inset surface. A three-digit serial number is impressed in the lower left, and a black ink maker’s mark comprised of a crown with arched text above and below, is stamped in the center. The sides have light brown staining along the edges and bottom. The surface has minor crazing throughout.

    b: Small, rectangular, ceramic lid for a box base (a). It is decorated with a relief image of a man in left profile. The man has reddish, mottled skin, a large nose, and a long black beard, hair, and sidelocks. On his head is a gray skullcap with a forelock extending from the front. He wears a dark green jacket with the collar of his white shirt visible around his neck. In the background, there are red bricks along the top left corner, while the rest of the background is a mixture of muted yellow, red, brown, and black shades suggesting more details. The man’s name is handwritten on the green collar, and three initials appear on his shoulder. When on the base, the lip of the lid overhangs the sides of the base. On the underside, a black ink maker’s mark comprised of a crown with arched text above and below, is stamped to the right. A line of black ink text is stamped along the underside of the lip. There is a significant chip or loss in the upper right corner of the lid’s surface.
    a: Height: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Width: 3.250 inches (8.255 cm) | Depth: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm)
    b: Height: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm) | Width: 3.875 inches (9.843 cm) | Depth: 2.875 inches (7.302 cm)
    a : porcelain, glaze, paint, ink
    b : 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 ceramic box 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 07:11:14
    This page:

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