Movie 9min

The Antique Vase (1913)

A penniless actor sells his beloved vase to a Jewish dealer pained to part with his money in this comic short reflecting antisemitic stereotypes.

+ 3 images
Director H.O. Martinek
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Antique Black and White Comedy Crime Drama Jew Money Short Silent Film Stereotype Swindler

While it makes for uneasy viewing today, this comic short illustrates popular sensibilities of 1913, and offers a rare glimpse of pre-WWI Finchley - look out for the butcher's shop window. From its antisemitic portrayal of the antiques dealer to the elaborate wallpaper of the interiors, The Antique Vase is very much a product of its time. Hard-up Martin and his kindly neighbour devise a ruse to appeal to the greed of the dealer, Lewinstein.

In 1913 the 'money-loving Jew' was still a stock figure of comedy. Lewinstein undervalues Martin's antique vase, which leads Martin and his neighbour to trick him. Although the architects of the plan are devious, it is Isaac Lewinstein who is the butt of the joke when the ruse works. The film was directed by the prolific HO Martinek (who also appears in the role of Martin) from a scenario by Harold B. Brett (who plays Lewinstein).

Source: BFI

A girl tricks an antique dealer into buying a vase belonging to her boyfriend. Martin, a penniless actor, decides to sell an antique vase, but Isaac Lewinstein the owner of the shop refuses to buy it. Stella, Martin's friend, later goes into the shop and says she will pay twenty pounds for an old vase. Isaac runs after Martin and offers him ten pounds for the vase and Martin accepts. Stella writes to Isaac saying that as she is leaving the country she no longer wishes to buy a vase (520ft). (Shotlist)

Source: BFI

Old Martin endeavors in vain to sell an antique vase to Isaacs for £5. His artist-friend, Stella, decides to help him, and, sketching the vase, she visits Isaacs, telling him she will pay £20 for such a vase. Isaacs immediately buys Martin's vase for £10, hoping to sell it for double that sum, but later he discovers he has been sold.

Source: Cinema News and Property Gazette (March 26, 1913)

Artist helps old man swindle Jewish antique dealer.

Source: Imdb

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H.O. Martinek - Martin
B. Harold Brett - Isaacs
Sadie Strande - Stella
H.O. Martinek - Director
Harold B. Brett - Writer
Swindling the moneyperson

Here, as in so many early films containing Jews, they are portrayed as money-loving greedy people, and this is no different although the Jew is not the main character. He is the art dealer that refuses to buy a vase until a better deal comes along and he thinks he may lose it. The only thing is, he is tricked.