|Metal and wooden
weathervanes have decorated homes, stores, and barns for many years, from
the early days of hand production through the revolutions of the industrial
age. Weathervanes can be both beautiful and utilitarian, functioning as
indicator of the wind and the weather. Antique weathervanes are one of
the most popular categories of folk art today, and one must be careful
of reproductions at the same time that theft of these antique crafts has
seen a dramatic rise commensurate with the rise in their value.
Weathervanes were made mostly by hand prior
to about 1850, crafted by skilled artisans in copper, iron, zinc, and even
wood. While shapes and sizes vary greatly, animals were quite popular including
horses, cows, pigs, roosters, and even Indians, trains, and flags. Follwing
the Civil War, America returned to business and reconstruction, and several
concentrations of mass weathervane and other metalwork manufacture were
established in New England. Most were made from thin sheets of copper either
hand hammered or press molded into the desired form. The three dimensional
natrue of most antique weathervanes meant that halves and pieces had to
be soldered together, so the proper fit and trim quality is another indication
of age and quality. Weathervanes were sold in shops, stores, and in mail
order catalogues, available at a variety of prices and accessible to much
of the population and as such grew quite popular as ornamental and functional
True antique weathervanes have been exposed
to weather for 50+ years and sometimes much longer, so you should expect
them to look aged and weathered so to speak. Paint will survive only in
areas for works which were hand painted, while natural copper develops
the green or verdigris patina which is not easily replicated by chemical
reproductions. Iron weathervanes will develop a dark crusty red rust on
the surface, often with pitting. Weathervanes made of wood are even more
susceptible to aging, and most have the look of driftwood in appearance,
often with cracks and rounded edges. It should also be noted that natural
aging has patterns, and in the case of weathervanes that usually means
one side is more exposed to the elements than the other. As such, this
is another means that experts use to identify reproductions and fakes.
If you want a clean, pristine weathervane, you should buy a new piece because
antique weathervanes are just not going to look that way, or if they do
will have been refinished which eliminates much of the collector value.
When buying antique
weathervanes, it's smart to buy from an educated dealer or to
take the time to educate yourself since prices and quality vary
widely. In general, one looks to the detailing in the work,
an indication of the relative capabilities of the artist, and
collectors today like original condition with original paint
ansd patina. Collectors also like fun "themes" and action, and
in general the more elaborate and larger the work the greater
the market value. While few weathervanes were marked by the
manufacturer, those that are command premium prices in the market.
However, as before, one must be particularly careful of reproductions
when purchasing antique folk art such as weathervanes.
Ever been fooled by
a fake or a seller that didn't deliver the goods as described?
At Collectics, we authenticate and stand behind everything we sell, at
prices "30% below your local antique shop" according
to Collectibles Guide 2010. Please browse our main Antiques
& Collectibles Mall to find a treat for yourself or
a great gift for others, all with free shipping. Thanks for visiting and shopping at Collectics!
antique weathervanes and other finer bronze, copper, iron, and other metal
on the Collectics Bronze
& Metalware and Fine Antiques pages, or search the entire site for great antiques,
collectibles, and crafts for every collector!