Each winter, the Jewish holiday Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights. Also called the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is in remembrance of the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. After the Jews reclaimed the temple, there was only enough oil to light the temple menorah for one night, yet the oil miraculously lasted eight nights until more oil could be prepared.
Hanukkah menorahs, a type of candelabrum, have places for candles to symbolize the eight nights, as well as an additional spot for the candle that is used to light the others, which is called a shamash. One candle is lit each night of Hanukkah—on the first night, just one candle; on the second night, both the first candle and another are lit.
Antique menorahs tend to be rare. In North America, Hanukkah was not as widely celebrated in centuries past as it is now—thus antique menorahs are expensive. Lucky are those who come across menorahs made in the 19th century. Hanukkah menorahs made today are usually in this familiar shape:
Older menorahs often look like this one:
When looking to purchase an antique Hanukkah menorah, remember to check the number of candleholders. Hanukkah menorahs differ from menorahs found in temples. Temple menorahs hold just seven candles while Hanukkah menorahs hold eight, plus the shamash.
GoAntiques has several remarkable antique Hanukkah menorahs up for sale, including this one, handmade in the early 1900s in Damascus, Syria, from bronze with sterling silver.
There are also 20th-century menorahs, most notably an Art Deco-style piece made in England in 1937.
And another—also made in England—from 1948.
This silver menorah, made in the Middle East in the 1930s, features a delicate filigree design.
In a different design than most other menorahs, this is a unique way to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Made in the Middle East around 1930, it is silver and has a pattern of small menorah images around the base.
And this brass piece is a showstopper. Made in 1940, it has a detailed design with two prominent lions.
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