Bronze figurine of a seated Jewish peddler

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2016.184.2
1 Jan 1800 - 31 Dec 1899
Level of Description
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

overall: Height: 11.000 inches (27.94 cm) | Diameter: 6.875 inches (17.463 cm)


Biographical History

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.

Archival History

The figurine was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by the Katz Family.


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of 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.

Scope and Content

Metal figurine of a sitting Jewish peddler with a box of goods on his lap, from the 19th century. The man has several stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men: a large nose, hooded eyes, full and thick lips, sidelocks, and a beard. Peddlers were itinerant vendors who traveled the countryside and sold goods to the public. They usually traveled alone and carried their goods with them as they went. 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. The stereotype 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 money lending. 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. Often, they were shown carrying a sack on their back or a tray around their midsection. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on access

Conditions Governing Reproduction

No restrictions on use

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Large, heavy, detailed cast bronze figurine of an Orthodox Jewish peddler seated on a square crate. He wears a round, brimmed hat, trousers, and a long coat with wide, notched lapels. He has stereotypical Jewish facial features: thick eyebrows, hooded eyes, a long, hooked nose, and full, thick lips, with sidelocks (peyot), and a long, textured beard. His head and upper body are tilted to his right, and angled upward. His mouth is open as though he is speaking. An open box of small, molded objects rests on his lap. He points with the long, thin index finger and angled thumb of his right hand at an object, and presses the four fingers of his left hand to his left breast. The figure is attached to low, circular base with an incised line along the top edge. The figure is hollow on the interior and there is some corrosion on the interior base. A small loss at the back of the base has a jagged edge.



This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.