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Dark bronze candlestick in the shape of a happy Jewish speculator

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.626

Bronze candleholder depicting a Jewish speculator made around 1880 in Vienna, Austria. Likely one of a pair, the candlestick has a happy face with the term “hausse” inscribed on the base. The partner candlestick would have a sad face and “baisse” inscribed on the base. Both words are stock market terminology derived from the French words for “rise” and “drop.” The terms refer to the comparative price of assets at the times of buying and selling. The placement of the “baisse” on the sad-faced candleholder and the “hausse” on the happy one implies that Jews prefer to buy assets at lower prices and then sell them at a higher price, profiting from the price fluctuation. This references the antisemitic stereotypes of the greedy Jew who exploits Gentiles for their own economic advantage, and Jewish control of finance. These stereotypes 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, and created negative connotations for Jews who worked in finance.The candlestick is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

creation:  approximately 1880
creation: Vienna (Austria)
Furnishings and Furniture
Lighting devices
Object Type
Candlesticks (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:13:49
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