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Pair of painted candlesticks of a happy and a sad Jewish speculator

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.154 a-b

Pair of painted bronze candleholders depicting Jewish speculators made around 1880 in Vienna, Austria. One speculator has a happy face with the term “hausse” inscribed on the base, the other has a sad face and the term “baisse” inscribed on the base. Both words are stock market terminology derived from the French words for “rise” and “drop.” The terms refer to the comparative price of assets at the times of buying and selling. The placement of the “baisse” on the sad-faced candleholder and the “hausse” on the happy one implies that Jews prefer to buy assets at lower prices and then sell them at a higher price, profiting from the price fluctuation. This references the antisemitic stereotypes of the greedy Jew who exploits Gentiles for their own economic advantage, and Jewish control of finance. These stereotypes originated from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews. They were barred from owning land, farming, joining trade guilds, and military service. These restrictions limited Jews to the occupations of retail peddling, hawking, and moneylending. Additionally, medieval religious belief held that charging interest (known as usury) was sinful, and the Jews who occupied these professions were looked down upon, predominantly by European Christians. They were perceived as morally deficient and willing to engage in unethical business practices. The inability of Jews to legally hold other occupations, combined with Christians’ disdain for the professions Jews were allowed to practice, helped form the canard of the greedy Jew who exploited Gentiles, and created negative connotations for Jews who worked in finance. The candlesticks are two of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Date
creation:  approximately 1880
Geography
creation: Vienna (Austria)
Language
French
Classification
Furnishings and Furniture
Category
Lighting devices
Object Type
Candlesticks (lcsh)
Genre/Form
Candelabras.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
 
Record last modified: 2021-04-08 12:05:36
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn538262