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Oil painting of three money clippers shaving gold coins

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.296

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    Oil painting of three money clippers shaving gold coins

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    Brief Narrative
    Oil painting of Jewish coin clippers at work, likely created in 19th century Russia. They are depicted with beards and sidelocks, which are traditionally worn by Jewish men. On the table in front of them is tefillin (a religious ritual object), a fish head and a garlic bulb, two traditional foods associated with Jews. Coin clipping was the illegal practice of removing small pieces of metal from coins. Until modern times, coinage was hammered from precious (and soft) metals such as silver or gold, resulting in coins that were not perfectly round. Furthermore, normal wear from use would exacerbate their irregular shapes. Unscrupulous individuals would take advantage of these irregularities and remove slivers off the edges of the coins. The pieces were then melted down, either into a bar and sold to a goldsmith, or used to make counterfeit coins. Coin clipping was widespread throughout Europe, and Jews were often accused of the practice. Jews were barred from owning land, farming, joining trade guilds, and military service. These restrictions forced many Jews into occupations such as money changing or money lending. 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, greedy, and willing to engage in unethical business practices. Many people thought money clipping was a common Jewish practice due to the disproportionate number of Jews in who worked with currency, combined with antisemitic stereotypes of Jew’s deviousness and greed. The painting is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    Artwork Title
    The Money Clippers
    creation:  approximately 1800-1899
    creation: Russia
    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

    Oil paintings.
    Physical Description
    Oil on canvas painting depicting three men standing around a table. On the table is a fish head, 2 garlic bulbs, a knife, a tefillin, and a white square with a pile of gold coins and 3 neat stacks of coins. The man in the center is clipping a gold coin, holding the coin in one hand and a small pair of scissors in the other. He is looking at his hands with a furrowed brow. He has straight gray sidelocks, a short beard, a full mustache, and a large, hooked nose, and wears a brimless brown fur hat and a black coat with gray fur trim. The man on the right is looking at the gold coin and smiling. He has a bulbous nose and black curled sidelocks and wears a black hat, a black coat, and a light brown vest. The man on the left is standing to the back with his hands in pockets, smoking a cigarette in a cigarette holder and watching the other men. He has dark brown hair, a short mustache and beard, and a long nose, and wears a black brimless hat and a light brown and white striped coat. The background is mottled brown and light brown. The painting is framed in a gold and black painted wooden frame with an open back.
    overall: Height: 17.125 inches (43.498 cm) | Width: 21.500 inches (54.61 cm) | Depth: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 13.500 inches (34.29 cm) | Width: 17.750 inches (45.085 cm)
    overall : oil paint, canvas

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    The painting 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 18:12:47
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