Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Etching of a Jewish peddler buying a pair of breeches

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.794

Early 19th century, English cartoon showing a Jewish peddler buying used clothing. The print was published by William Davison of Alnwick, an English printer and pharmacist. The peddler is depicted with several stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men: a beard, long sidelocks, and a large nose. Peddlers were itinerant vendors who sold goods to the public. Peddling was a common occupation for young Jewish men during the 18th and 19th centuries. Most peddlers hoped their hard work would serve as a springboard to more lucrative and comfortable occupations. However, old prejudices formed an antisemitic stereotype of the Jewish peddler, which 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. This canard was often visually depicted as a Jewish peddler, an untrustworthy figure that sold cut-rate items at inflated prices. This print is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic visual materials.

Artwork Title
Jew Purchasing Old Clothes
publication/distribution:  1812-1817
publication: Alnwick (England)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:13:51
This page: