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The Old Man

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.247

Ink drawing depicting an old clothes peddler with a sack slung over his back. He has a large, pointed nose and fleshy lips, both stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men. The large sack slung over the man’s back is commonly used to identify peddlers or old clothes dealers. Peddlers were itinerant vendors who sold goods to the public. They usually traveled alone and carried their goods with them as they went. Clothes peddlers dealt in old garments they bought, cleaned and repaired, and then sold for profit. Peddling was a common occupation for Jewish men during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, old prejudices formed an antisemitic stereotype of the Jewish peddler. The stereotype 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. This canard was often visually depicted as a Jewish peddler, an untrustworthy figure that sold cut-rate items at inflated prices. The drawing is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Date
creation:  approximately 1850-approximately 1859
Geography
creation: England
Language
English
Classification
Art
Category
Drawings
Genre/Form
Ink drawings.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
 
Record last modified: 2022-03-23 15:29:31
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn538874