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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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Rochester Iron Horse Weathervane
Oct 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Rochester Iron Horse Weathervane
by New England Auctions
Est: $4,000- $8,000
$1753 Bids
Painted pine grasshopper weathervane, early 20th c
Oct 07, 9:00 AM EDT
Painted pine grasshopper weathervane, early 20th c
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$2003 Bids
American Antique Zinc Full Bodies Cow Weathervane
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
American Antique Zinc Full Bodies Cow Weathervane
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $300- $600
$552 Bids
Large Harris Running Horse Weathervane
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Large Harris Running Horse Weathervane
by New England Auctions
Est: $4,000- $6,000
$6002 Bids
Copper Full Bodied Rooster Weathervane
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Copper Full Bodied Rooster Weathervane
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $300- $500
$552 Bids
Boston swell body copper running horse weathervane
Oct 07, 9:00 AM EDT
Boston swell body copper running horse weathervane
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $1,200- $1,600
$6002 Bids
Copper Horse and Sulky Weathervane
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Copper Horse and Sulky Weathervane
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $250- $450
$501 Bid
Unique Fish Weather Vane/Lightning Rod
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
Unique Fish Weather Vane/Lightning Rod
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $10,000
$1001 Bid
Large Horse Weathervane
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Large Horse Weathervane
by New England Auctions
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$1001 Bid
Gilt swell body copper eagle weathervane
Oct 07, 9:00 AM EDT
Gilt swell body copper eagle weathervane
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $400- $700
$2001 Bid
Arrow Weathervane
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Arrow Weathervane
by New England Auctions
Est: $150- $250
$501 Bid
Fireman Weathervane
Oct 15, 9:00 AM EDT
Fireman Weathervane
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $75
$201 Bid
Rooster Weathervane
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Rooster Weathervane
by New England Auctions
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$5001 Bid
Copper Weather Vane of Eagle
Oct 11, 11:00 AM EDT
Copper Weather Vane of Eagle
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $50- $100
$101 Bid
S. LAYNE FOLK ART WHIRLIGIG
Oct 08, 10:00 AM EDT
S. LAYNE FOLK ART WHIRLIGIG
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$1001 Bid
Galvanized metal Monitor weathervane
Oct 21, 9:00 AM EDT
Galvanized metal Monitor weathervane
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $25- $2,000
$251 Bid
Hunt Diederich Attrib Art Deco Centaur Weathervane
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Hunt Diederich Attrib Art Deco Centaur Weathervane
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $8,000- $12,000
$1,0001 Bid
FOLK ART RACE HORSE & RIDER HAND MADE WEATHER VANE
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
FOLK ART RACE HORSE & RIDER HAND MADE WEATHER VANE
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $800- $1,500
$4001 Bid
Small hollow horse weathervane on triple heart front
Oct 21, 9:00 AM EDT
Small hollow horse weathervane on triple heart front
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $25- $2,000
$251 Bid
Large hollow cow weathervane on American front
Oct 21, 9:00 AM EDT
Large hollow cow weathervane on American front
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $25- $2,000
$251 Bid
French iron weathervane with fish and crown
Oct 08, 10:00 AM EDT
French iron weathervane with fish and crown
by King Galleries
Est: $300- $450
$1500 Bids
Metal Painted Horse Weather Vane Top
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
Metal Painted Horse Weather Vane Top
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$500 Bids
French painted iron weathervane depicting a hunter
Oct 08, 10:00 AM EDT
French painted iron weathervane depicting a hunter
by King Galleries
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Fish Weathervane - Whirligig
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Fish Weathervane - Whirligig
by New England Auctions
Est: $500- $1,000
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Weathervanes & Lightning Rods


Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC

Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC

New England Auctions

New England Auctions

Nadeau's Auction Gallery

Nadeau's Auction Gallery

Pook & Pook Inc.

Pook & Pook Inc.