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Sugar nips with handles carved as a Jewish man and woman

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.541

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    Sugar nips with handles carved as a Jewish man and woman

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    Brief Narrative
    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
    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
    Object Type
    Sugar tongs (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Lightweight sugar nips with silver colored metal arms and wooden handles with a hand carved Jewish female at the top of one and a Jewish male on the other. The man has sidelocks, a large nose, and pointed beard and wears a flat hat and a belted tunic and robe. The woman has a pointed nose, has an updo, and wears a long dress. Both figures are on decorated, square platforms that extend from a central, circular wood pivot with a coiled inner spring. The pivot has additional extensions to connect to the cylindrical arms, which taper into narrow, flattened, end scoops with a textured well to hold the sugar.
    overall: Height: 4.875 inches (12.383 cm) | Width: 2.375 inches (6.033 cm) | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm)
    overall : wood, metal

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    The sugar tong 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 18:13:48
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