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Sugar nips with handles carved as a Jewish man and woman

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.541

Pair of sugar nips with wood handles carved in the shape of a Jewish man and woman. Sugar nips (sometimes called tongs) are used to grab sugar cubes from their bowls. Nips have small bowls at the ends for grabbing, and a pivot in the center of the arms similar to scissors, usually with circular or decorative handles. The man, on the left handle, has a large nose, a long beard, and sidelocks; three stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men. He is wearing a brimmed cap with a long suit-style jacket, either a “rekel” or a “bekishe.” Men traditionally wear the fancier bekishe on special occasions, and the simpler rekel on an everyday basis. The woman is depicted as a stereotypical late-19th century housewife with a floor-length dress and arms folded in front of her. Sugar, a valued household commodity, has had a multifaceted association with Jews. In the 17th century, many persecuted Dutch and Portuguese Jews fled to the New World. In the colonies of Surinam, the Dutch West Indies, and Brazil, they operated sugar plantations and became active in the sugar trade. Additionally, medical literature of the late-19th century wrongly believed that Jewish populations were more susceptible to diabetes. The supposed connection was thought to be so common that diabetes was called Judenkrankheit [Jewish disease] in German literature. The image of the Jews as a diabetic race is indicative of the long history of depicting Jews as a diseased people, which dates back at least to the Middle Ages, when they were persecuted for allegedly spreading plague throughout Europe. Casting Jews as syphilitic, tubercular, or diabetic reinforced the image of the Jew as inherently weak and sickly. The sugar nips are one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic visual materials.

creation:  approximately 1830-approximately 1870
creation: Germany
Household Utensils
Object Type
Sugar tongs (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2021-04-08 15:38:15
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