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Bisque figurine of a Jew in a white plasterer’s coat and blue boots

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.588

Porcelain bisque figurine of a Jewish man, possibly an ashtray or change plate, made in Germany. The man has a large nose, sidelocks, large ears, a beard, hooded eyes, and fleshy lips; all stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men. The text on the figurine indicates the man is bemoaning the spa tax in Carlsbad, Austria-Hungary (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic). Carlsbad is a European town located on a thermal spring, and has accommodations that use those springs for their medicinal and rejuvenating properties. Many European spa towns can trace their histories back to ancient Roman settlements. During the 18th and 19th centuries, European spa towns became increasingly popular as centers for health and social destinations for the affluent, the nobility, and European royalty. During this time, seemingly large numbers of Jewish guests also frequented the spa towns. However, antisemitic sentiment was also present. Derogatory postcards, called Judenspottkarten [Jew-mocking cards], and other souvenirs were produced and sold. The figurine lamenting the cost of the services at the spa town is a reference to the stereotype of the greedy Jew. This stereotype dates back to the Middle Ages, when economic and professional restrictions limited many 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 perceived as morally deficient and willing to engage in unethical business practices. These factors formed the canard of the greedy Jew who exploited Gentiles. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

manufacture: Germany
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-05-23 15:26:27
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