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Cartwright and Edwards plate decorated with a scene from Oliver Twist

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.87

Plate made by Cartwright and Edwards, likely during the early 20th century, and decorated with a scene from Charles Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist. The depicted scene is Oliver’s introduction to Fagin by the Artful Dodger. Cartwright & Edwards was an English earthenware and china manufacturer in operation from 1857 until 1990. On the plate, Fagin is portrayed with a beard, a large nose and a skullcap; 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. 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 plate is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

manufacture: Longton (Stoke-on-Trent, England)
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:12:36
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