White porcelain match holder depicting a stereotypical Jewish peddler

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2016.184.10
Level of Description
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

overall: Height: 5.500 inches (13.97 cm) | Width: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Depth: 2.625 inches (6.668 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

Decorative porcelain match holder shaped as a Jewish peddler carrying a large, empty sack on his back. The man has several stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men: a large nose, fleshy lips, and red hair. 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. However, old prejudices stemming from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews formed an antisemitic stereotype of the Jewish peddler. 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. The depiction of wicked Jewish characters as redheads also has a long history. Some interpretations of the Bible describe Esau and David (King of Israel), as having red hair, and for many, red hair became a Jewish identifier, even though Jews are no more likely to have red hair than other groups. In medieval Europe, redheads were regarded as untrustworthy, and the Jewish literary villains Fagin and Shylock had red hair. This figurine is one of the 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

White, porcelain match holder depicting a man in a wrinkled top hat, a knee-length jacket with faded, light blue trim, and light blue trousers with matching shoes. The jacket has three, small, unpainted buttons down the front. He has red-brown hair, curly sidelocks, a short beard, a large, curved nose, and full, red lips. His arms are raised, with the elbows bent so his hands are at chest height. A blue striped cloth hangs over his right forearm. He carries a rumpled cloth sack with an open top and a hollow interior, for matches, suspended from blue straps that crisscross his chest and hang off his shoulders. Behind him, and below the sack, is a low, narrow tree stump beside a pile of stones rising from the circular base he stands on. The low sides have several raised bands around them and traces of blue, painted stripes along the edges, which has worn away unevenly. There is a small hole for firing on the underside beside a partial blue mark. The blue has also worn-off several sections of his shoes and pants, as well as the straps. There are small discolorations throughout and a finger on his left hand is broken and now missing.



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.