Weathervanes & Lightning Rods

Situated atop architectural structures, weathervanes and lightning rods often serve both functional and decorative purposes. As indicators of wind direction and strength, weathervanes are usually in motion, drawing the attention of passersby. Likewise, lightning rods are positioned atop the highest point of the building and often visible from great distances. Because of their heightened visibility, these architectural elements are prime opportunities for eye-catching ornamentation.

Weathervanes were used in ancient Greece, where they often took the form of deities, especially Poseidon, god of the sea, and Boreas, god of the north wind. During the 9th century A.D., weathervanes across Europe began to display roosters, suns, and stars, which were popular symbols widely used in emblems and architectural facades at the time. These motifs are still frequently used today. In contrast to weathervanes, lightning rods have a much shorter history. During the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod and experimented with different versions until he decided upon a tall rod, which best attracts lightning, and a wire, which redirects the electrical current of the lightning bolt to an underground rod. As buildings have grown taller during the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, lightning rods have become essential architectural elements that ensure the longevity of towering structures.

Today, both weathervanes and lightning rods are ubiquitous features found atop homes, office buildings, and skyscrapers. In many cases, the two elements are combined into a single object, exhibiting the creativity and efficiency of modern architectural design. A variety of conventional and innovative weathervanes and lightning rods is available for avid collectors of wind and weather instruments.


Quick Facts

  • On October 6, 2006, Sotheby’s New York sold a molded copper Indian Chief weathervane, attributed to J. L. Mott Iron Works Co. c. 1900, for $5,840,000
  • George Washington installed a weathervane in the shape of a dove atop Mount Vernon, his plantation house, to commemorate the end of the Revolutionary War
  • After suffering from multiple lightning strikes between 1885 and 1934, the Washington Monument was protected by the addition of tall lightning rods atop its pyramidal cap

Recommended Items at Auction

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Early American Folk Art Rooster Weathervane
Oct 27, 12:00 PM EDT
Early American Folk Art Rooster Weathervane
by C Biddle Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$503 Bids
Full Bodied Copper Eagle Weathervane
Oct 27, 11:00 AM EDT
Full Bodied Copper Eagle Weathervane
by Caza Sikes
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
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Running Horse Weathervane
Oct 17, 10:00 AM EDT
Running Horse Weathervane
by New Haven Auctions
Est: $500- $1,000
$501 Bid
A FIGURAL RAM LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE C. 1900
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A FIGURAL RAM LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE C. 1900
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $1,000- $3,000
$5000 Bids
A KRETZER NO. 128 SHEEP LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A KRETZER NO. 128 SHEEP LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $1,000- $3,000
$5000 Bids
A KRETZER NO. 129 MULE LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A KRETZER NO. 129 MULE LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5000 Bids
A W.C. SHINN LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH AUTO
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A W.C. SHINN LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH AUTO
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH ROADSTER
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH ROADSTER
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $500- $1,000
$2500 Bids
LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH EARLY SEDAN AUTOMOBILE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH EARLY SEDAN AUTOMOBILE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids
A KRETZER NO. 131 AUTO LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A KRETZER NO. 131 AUTO LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH TROTTING HORSE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH TROTTING HORSE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH COW
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH COW
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH EAGLE CIRCA 1900
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH EAGLE CIRCA 1900
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
A COLLECTIBLE 20TH C. BIPLANE WEATHERVANE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A COLLECTIBLE 20TH C. BIPLANE WEATHERVANE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH PIG CIRCA 1920
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE WITH PIG CIRCA 1920
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
A KRETZER NO. 125 HORSE LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A KRETZER NO. 125 HORSE LIGHTNING ROD WEATHER VANE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Firemen Horse Wagon Sculptural Copper Weather Vane
Oct 27, 12:00 PM EDT
Firemen Horse Wagon Sculptural Copper Weather Vane
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$500 Bids
A SCARCE PAINTED FIGURAL EAR OF CORN WEATHER VANE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A SCARCE PAINTED FIGURAL EAR OF CORN WEATHER VANE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$5000 Bids
AN UNUSUAL KING WEATHER VANE WITH FIGURAL PIG
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
AN UNUSUAL KING WEATHER VANE WITH FIGURAL PIG
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $500- $1,000
$2500 Bids
A RARE W.C. SHINN LIGHTNING ROD VANE WITH BEAVER
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A RARE W.C. SHINN LIGHTNING ROD VANE WITH BEAVER
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $500- $750
$2500 Bids
LARGE CARVED WOOD PEACOCK WEATHERVANE-TYPE FIGURE
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
LARGE CARVED WOOD PEACOCK WEATHERVANE-TYPE FIGURE
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Iron Arrow Weathervane having iron directional, on stand total height on stand 60 inches, length 39 inches
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
Iron Arrow Weathervane having iron directional, on stand total height on stand 60 inches, length 39 inches
by Nadeau's Auction Gallery
Est: $250- $450
$1250 Bids
Lightning rod with trident finial
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Lightning rod with trident finial
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $25- $200
$200 Bids
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Bi-Wing Airplane Weathervane
Oct 17, 10:00 AM EDT
Bi-Wing Airplane Weathervane
by New Haven Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$200 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Weathervanes & Lightning Rods


Dirk Soulis Auctions

Dirk Soulis Auctions

Eldred's

Eldred's

CRN Auctions

CRN Auctions

Horst Auctioneers

Horst Auctioneers