The diagonal fluting on the body and arms of this lamp lends it a Moorish air, compounded by the oil containers that resemble Aladdin's lamps. In fact, the latter are in the form of Roman oil lamps, and are reminders of a method of lighting used in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Hebrew word "rnenorah" actually means lampstand, and the seven- branch menorah originally served in the Temple as a stand to support individual oil lamps. This can be seen in representations in ancient Jewish art, for example, on a Roman burial plaque of the third or fourth century in The Jewish Museum.
The great influx of eastern European Jews beginning in the 1880s caused the Jewish population in the United States to increase from around two hundred eighty thousand to four and a half million by 1925. This potential market for ceremonial objects must have captured the attention of the big silver manufacturers such as Gorham, one of the largest in the nineteenth century. Gorham was among the first to employ machinery in the production of silver objects, yet in the 1890s they returned to hand-hammered work, creating a line of highly regarded Art Nouveau-style objects such as mirrors and vases. This lamp was made in 1885, the first year that Gorham began to manufacture ecclesiastical objects.