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Cast metal bottle opener with a Fagin shaped handle

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.143

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    Cast metal bottle opener with a Fagin shaped handle


    Brief Narrative
    Bottle opener with a cast brass handle shaped like Fagin, a devil-like Jewish criminal from the novel, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, 1837-39. Fagin's characterization is antisemitic and exploits many negative stereotypes. Referred to as The Jew, Fagin is villainous, greedy, and repulsive, with black nails, fanglike teeth, and he kidnaps small children to make them thieves. Dickens shared a common prejudice of the time, saying that if he had a character who was a fence, he had to be a Jew because "that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew." Many adaptations try to sidestep the complications of Fagin's ethnic identity, or make him more of a comic figure, but his Jewishness is central to his depiction. This bottle opener is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    manufacture:  approximately 1885-approximately 1935
    manufacture: England
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    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

    Household Utensils
    Physical Description
    Cast iron bottle opener with a figural, cast brass handle in the shape of a man. The figure has an open, flat, recessed back and a hanging loop on the top. He wears a floppy hat, and an ankle-length buttoned coat with a neck scarf. His face is in quarter right profile and has deepset eyes, a large, bulbous nose, and a smooth, rounded beard. He stands in a slightly twisted position with his right knee bent and feet turned out, heels meeting on top of a small pedestal with incised rings. Soldered to the pedestal is the flat neck of the triangular key shaped opener with an open rhomboid shaped center and rounded corners. A flat tapered tab is inset at the top point to pry off bottle caps. Fagin is stamped on the back.
    overall: Height: 5.375 inches (13.653 cm) | Width: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm)
    overall : metal

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The bottle opener 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:
    2022-07-28 18:30:18
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