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Brass nutcracker in the shape of Fagin

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.629

Brass lever nutcracker cast in the shape of Fagin holding a money bag. They were mass produced by a brass company Pearson / Peerage in England, which made them for a long time, under several names. Fagin is a devil-like Jewish criminal from the novel, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, 1837-39. The novel's characterization is antisemitic and exploits many negative stereotypes. Referred to as The Jew, Fagin is villainous, greedy, and repulsive, with black nails, fanglike teeth, and he kidnaps small children to make them thieves. Dickens shared a common prejudice of the time, saying that if he had a character who was a fence, he had to be a Jew because "that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew." Many adaptations try to sidestep the complications of Fagin's ethnic identity, or make him more of a comic figure, but his Jewishness is central to his depiction. This nutcracker is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

manufacture:  approximately 1900
manufacture: Great Britain
Household Utensils
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:30:38
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