American Antique Folk Art weathervanes
A part of the American landscape in both rural and urban areas since the 17th Century, weathervanes represent an interesting niche' within the folk art category. Of metal or wooden construction, weathervanes can be both beautiful and utilitarian, serving as an indicator of the wind and the weather conditions. While one of the most popular collectibles available from folk art dealers, caution must be exercised against reproductions. The interest in counterfeiting fake weathervanes has naturally increased with the rise in popularity and value. While personal knowledge about weathervanes is invaluable, one of the best safeguards against being victimized by a counterfeit antique is to work with a reputable dealer. Our site has enjoyed a long tradition of dealing in folk art weathervanes.
Folk Art Weathervanes were crafted by hand by self taught artists until the Mid-1800's, when skilled artisans plied their trade in copper, iron, zinc, and even wood. While shapes and sizes vary greatly, animals were quite popular (horses, pigs, roosters, cows), and even Indians, locomotives, and flags. After the Civil War metalwork manufacturers began mass production facilities, especially in New England. Most mass-produced weathervanes were made from thin sheets of copper either hand hammered or press molded into the desired form. Typical antique weathervanes are sculpted 3-dimensional works that required soldering of halves, so that the fit and trim aspects are another indication of age and quality.
True antique weathervanes have been exposed to weather for 50+ years and sometimes much longer, so age and weathering are indicators of authenticity. 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.
As with most Folk Art items, value is determined by a range of considerations, including age, craftsmanship, subject matter, size, rarity / uniqueness, condition, documentation / authenticity, and material composition--just to name the most common factors for valuation.