The word ‘vane’ comes from the Old English word fana meaning ‘flag’.
Much like flags, weathervanes are used for showing the direction of the wind but are also commonly used for their innate architectural beauty. They are commonly found at the highest point of a building – often on a barn or church.
Weathervanes have been found around the world and it is believed they have existed as far back as 2000 B.C. Artifacts resembling weathervanes have been found in Ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese civilizations.
Around the time of the American Revolutionary War, weathervanes began to be used in the United States. George Washington had a weathervane at his Mount Vernon home. Other notable American figures such as Thomas Jefferson and Paul Revere also had weathervanes on their properties.
In those early days of American farming weathervanes were used to tell wind direction because almost every task on a farm was either helped or hindered by the weather; especially those tasks involving cutting, baling, rolling, stacking and storing hay. As the popularity of weathervanes spread throughout New England, people began to create unusual and fun designs. In addition to the traditional banner and arrow, some designs on barns included a running stag, a prancing horse, and a horse with carriage.
Although still used today on barns and outbuildings, weathervanes have become collectible as folk art. Antique weathervanes, made before 1900, can sell for thousands of dollars. 20th century weathervanes typically bring in the hundreds of dollars at retail, depending on the intricate and elaborate designs they display.
The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village showcases a unique weathervane from the early 20th century along with a collection of other antique and vintage farming essentials. To see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.
Check back next week for another Trivia Tuesday!