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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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An early cockerel weathervane, wrought iron and pressed metal. 114cm high
Apr 14, 7:00 PM AEST
An early cockerel weathervane, wrought iron and pressed metal. 114cm high
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD456 Bids
19thC. Copper & Iron Running Horse Weatherwave
Apr 13, 10:30 AM EDT
19thC. Copper & Iron Running Horse Weatherwave
by Terri Peters & Associates
Est: $0- $0
$755 Bids
Lobster Weather Vane
Apr 16, 9:00 AM EDT
Lobster Weather Vane
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$145 Bids
(3pc) Metal Outdoor Figures, Wagon, Truck
Apr 13, 10:00 AM MST
(3pc) Metal Outdoor Figures, Wagon, Truck
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$455 Bids
Iron weathervane with red etched tail
Apr 13, 9:00 AM EDT
Iron weathervane with red etched tail
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$2755 Bids
Iron weathervane arrow with red etched tail
Apr 13, 9:00 AM EDT
Iron weathervane arrow with red etched tail
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$1252 Bids
Weathervane with car
Apr 13, 9:00 AM EDT
Weathervane with car
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$502 Bids
An American copper hippopotamus weathervane
Apr 16, 10:00 AM PDT
An American copper hippopotamus weathervane
by John Moran Auctioneers
Est: $300- $400
$1501 Bid
Horse Weathervane & Lightning Rod w/Globes
Apr 20, 10:00 AM CDT
Horse Weathervane & Lightning Rod w/Globes
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
Brass/copper Weather vane
Apr 16, 9:00 AM EDT
Brass/copper Weather vane
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$21 Bid
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WOODEN DUCK-FORM WEATHER VANE 20th Century Total height 31". Duck length 15".
Apr 25, 9:30 AM EDT
WOODEN DUCK-FORM WEATHER VANE 20th Century Total height 31". Duck length 15".
by Eldred's
Est: $250- $300
$1251 Bid
Running Horse Weathervane
May 10, 10:00 AM EDT
Running Horse Weathervane
by New England Auctions
Est: $500- $800
$1001 Bid
Horse Weathervane
May 10, 10:00 AM EDT
Horse Weathervane
by New England Auctions
Est: $400- $800
$501 Bid
Blackhawk Horse Weathervane
May 10, 10:00 AM EDT
Blackhawk Horse Weathervane
by New England Auctions
Est: $500- $800
$501 Bid
NOS King weathervane arrow
Apr 13, 9:00 AM EDT
NOS King weathervane arrow
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
Aluminum Galloping Horse Weathervane
Apr 21, 9:00 AM MST
Aluminum Galloping Horse Weathervane
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Rooster weathervane, Rochester Iron Works
Apr 25, 10:00 AM CDT
Rooster weathervane, Rochester Iron Works
by Guyette & Deeter
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$1,5000 Bids
Cameron McIntyre (b.1968), New Church, Virginia.
Apr 26, 10:00 AM CDT
Cameron McIntyre (b.1968), New Church, Virginia.
by Guyette & Deeter
Est: $8,000- $12,000
$4,0000 Bids
Vintage Figural Copper Sailboat Weathervane, 20th Century
Apr 27, 9:30 AM EDT
Vintage Figural Copper Sailboat Weathervane, 20th Century
by Rafael Osona Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$2000 Bids
Vintage Copper Whale Weathervane
Apr 27, 9:30 AM EDT
Vintage Copper Whale Weathervane
by Rafael Osona Auctions
Est: $250- $350
$2000 Bids
Metal Peace Dove Weathervane
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
Metal Peace Dove Weathervane
by Atlanta Auction Gallery, ltd
Est: $1,000- $3,000
$5000 Bids
Putnam Dyes rack, Pure Honey shelf, weathervane and wood egg crate
Apr 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Putnam Dyes rack, Pure Honey shelf, weathervane and wood egg crate
by Schultz Auctioneers
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Impressive American Molded Copper "Horse-Drawn Steam Fire Engine" Weathervane, 20th C.
Apr 16, 10:00 AM EDT
Impressive American Molded Copper "Horse-Drawn Steam Fire Engine" Weathervane, 20th C.
by Material Culture
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$2,0000 Bids
Group of 4 Whirligigs
Apr 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Group of 4 Whirligigs
by Schultz Auctioneers
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Weathervanes & Lightning Rods


New England Auctions

New England Auctions

Rafael Osona Auctions

Rafael Osona Auctions

Marion Antique Auctions

Marion Antique Auctions

Pook & Pook Inc.

Pook & Pook Inc.