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The Antique Vase

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The Antique Vase

A penniless actor sells his beloved antique vase to a Jewish dealer who is pained to part with his money

Comedy 1913 9 mins

Overview

While it makes for uneasy viewing today, this well-preserved 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. This is a neatly-constructed and well-paced short film directed by the prolific HO Martinek (who also appears in the role of Martin) and with a scenario by Harold B. Brett (who plays Lewinstein).