Antique Weathervanes

Written by Patty Yu
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Weather enthusiasts that enjoy beautifying their homes with outdoor decorative art frequently attach modern or antique weathervanes on rooftops. Although weathervanes serve to show purveyors the wind direction, they have also evolved over the years aesthetically as home and garden ornamentation. Weathervane shapes vary dramatically, from arrows to animal shapes.

Old antique weathervanes and the newest weathervanes made today all still use the same design techniques for function. There are two rules that weathervane designers must follow so that the ornament actually works. A weathervane must have unequal area on either side of the center, but equal mass on either side. These physical characteristics allow even the slightest wind to rotate the weathervane.

Shaping Antique Weathervanes

One of the most basic weathervane style is the arrow ornament, sometimes also known as scrolls. These usually offer some type of design along an arrow with a point. Medieval times inspired the banner ornaments, which often have a point on one side with a flat portion behind it. The flat area is usually large enough to inscribe a date, monogram, or cut out some type of message.

Silhouettes are a popular weathervane style in history. These silhouette antique weathervanes were flattened and commonly shaped as animals, although the style also depicted fables, sporting themes, or humorous shapes. Swell-bodied weathervanes use molds to create streamline, hollow shapes, while full-bodied antique weathervanes are truly three-dimensional representations of animals or other objects.


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