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Lynda Cain
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Published: 10 November 2017

The Language of Weathervanes

In the 1800s, nearly every farm, schoolhouse, church and local business had its own distinct weathervane. Seaside townships used weathervanes to predict how long it could take a ship to arrive in port, while their different shapes and emblems allowed seamen to map a New England town and its resources. Many weathervanes were in the shape of farm animals, while others were modeled after champions of sporting events, like winning racehorses.

Because of the historical cultural references of their distinctive shapes and huge popularity during the 1800s, weathervanes are an unsurprising favorite among Americana collectors. Though for their original purpose, weathervanes are long obsolete, they have now been brought indoors as decorative elements, used to adorn walls, mantelpieces and tabletops.    

Freeman’s is pleased to offer 11 weathervanes from the Collection of Ann Arader in its Nov. 15 American Furniture, Folk, and Decorative Arts auction. From arrows to bannerettes to horse and riders, the weathervanes in the collection represent a variety of forms; they are each dynamic, but they seem even more spirited when viewed together.         

“As a designer of classic interiors, the hunt for beautiful weathervanes has always been a lifelong passion,” interior designer and consigner Ann Arader said. “There’s a certain dignity and distinction that only a weathervane can bring to a space. It adds dimension, an element of whimsy, the patina of history, and the romance of a story all at once. These weathervanes have great wall power.”

Highlights from this collection include:


Lot 178, a full-bodied copper and zinc Hambletonian horse and rider weathervane with verdigris surface from the 19th century, estimated at $8,000-$12,000.


Lot 347, a large sheet copper and zinc lyre and star bannerette weathervane that still retains areas of gilding. From the late 19th century, this lot is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.


Lot 354, a rare sheet metal fox and copper goose weathervane circa 1880. This three-dimensional goose with verdigris surface and silhouetted fox raised on a scrolled post with original copper directional is estimated from $10,000-$15,000.


Lot 353 is a large molder copper and cast zinc weathervane of an “Ethan Allen” running horse from the late 19th or early 20th century, estimated at $2,000-$3,000.


Lot 359 is a full-bodied copper weathervane of a gamecock attributed to J.W. Fiske, of New York, in the late 19th century. With sheet copper tail and verdigris surface, this lot is estimated at $1,500-$3,000. 

View the American Furniture, Folk, and Decorative Arts catalogue now.

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