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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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Antique Zinc Weathervane 114H x 56W x 58D cm
Jun 26, 5:00 PM AEST
Antique Zinc Weathervane 114H x 56W x 58D cm
by Lawsons
Est: AUD200- AUD300
AUD708 Bids
Swell-bodied copper hackney horse weathervane
Jun 26, 9:00 AM EDT
Swell-bodied copper hackney horse weathervane
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2603 Bids
Kathy Graybill Weathervane
Jun 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Kathy Graybill Weathervane
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$353 Bids
Cow Weathervane
Jun 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Cow Weathervane
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$402 Bids
Copper Eagle Weather Vane with Damage
Jun 25, 9:00 AM EDT
Copper Eagle Weather Vane with Damage
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$102 Bids
White Rooster Accent Weather Vane
Jun 29, 10:00 AM MST
White Rooster Accent Weather Vane
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$402 Bids
Cow Weathervane
Jul 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Cow Weathervane
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $100
$201 Bid
VINTAGE COPPER DEER WEATHERVANE.
Jul 01, 10:00 AM EDT
VINTAGE COPPER DEER WEATHERVANE.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
VINTAGE COPPER SAILBOAT WEATHERVANE W/ DIRECTIONALS.
Jul 01, 10:00 AM EDT
VINTAGE COPPER SAILBOAT WEATHERVANE W/ DIRECTIONALS.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
Aluminum Rooster Weathervane
Jun 30, 10:00 AM MST
Aluminum Rooster Weathervane
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Duck Weathervane
Jul 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Duck Weathervane
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $75- $100
$300 Bids
Antique Figural Galloping Horse Copper Weathervane, 19th century
Jul 06, 9:30 AM EDT
Antique Figural Galloping Horse Copper Weathervane, 19th century
by Rafael Osona Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Rooster Weathervane
Jul 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Rooster Weathervane
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $150- $200
$700 Bids
A blacksmith-made copper weather vane, early 20th century,
Jun 27, 10:00 AM BST
A blacksmith-made copper weather vane, early 20th century,
by Cheffins
Est: £300- £500
£1500 Bids
Sheet Metal Sea Captain's Wife and Spyglass Folk Art Weathervane
Jul 06, 9:30 AM EDT
Sheet Metal Sea Captain's Wife and Spyglass Folk Art Weathervane
by Rafael Osona Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$2000 Bids
Cow Weathervane
Jul 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Cow Weathervane
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Indian chief-shaped weathervan
Jul 12, 9:30 AM EDT
Indian chief-shaped weathervan
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $100- $500
$500 Bids
Small sheet iron chicken weathervane fragment
Jun 26, 9:00 AM EDT
Small sheet iron chicken weathervane fragment
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $160- $220
$800 Bids
Swell-bodied copper cow weathervane, 19th c.
Jun 26, 9:00 AM EDT
Swell-bodied copper cow weathervane, 19th c.
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
Sheet zinc cow weathervane
Jun 26, 9:00 AM EDT
Sheet zinc cow weathervane
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $140- $240
$700 Bids
Sheet zinc dog weathervane, mid 20th c.
Jun 26, 9:00 AM EDT
Sheet zinc dog weathervane, mid 20th c.
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Arrow Weathervane
Jul 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Arrow Weathervane
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
American Primitive Wooden Duck Weather Vane, Original Paint
Jul 14, 3:00 PM PDT
American Primitive Wooden Duck Weather Vane, Original Paint
by Clark's Auction Company
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Weathervanes & Lightning Rods


New England Auctions

New England Auctions

Pook & Pook Inc.

Pook & Pook Inc.

Copake Auction Inc.

Copake Auction Inc.