The word "weathervane" is derived from the old English word "Fane," meaning flag or banner.
The weathervane was a part of ancient culture as early as 48 B.C. A life-sized replica of the Greek God Triton was placed atop the Tower of Winds in Athens. Mankind has been relying on wind changes and weathervanes to predict weather for centuries.
Weathervanes were introduced to America by European immigrants to the New World and for more than 100 years have been one of the most popular American Folk Art forms. Some were used as scientific instruments determining wind directions for farmers as well as the city dweller, and as location markers for many farms as well as businesses.
Recently, they have become a collectible item. In the past 50 years, the "train" weathervane has been considered the most rare and valuable to collect, the reason being that there were few train stations in the settling of our early small towns.
The most popular weathervanes are barnyard animals (rooster, cow, horse). Har-Ber Village displays 4 weathervanes: horse, horse with sulky and driver, an eagle and an arrow. As you travel through the Village, be sure to look up to find these incredible pieces of folk art.
Primary criteria in the valuation of weathervanes are "size," "form," and "surface." "Surface" is the most important. When leaving the factory, they are covered with gold leaf squares applied to the copper or zinc form. Exposed to outside elements, the gold leaf deteriorates and the copper or zinc turns to a green verdigris color. This element could actually enhance the beauty and value of the weathervane if it is in its original state.
In the collectible market, weathervanes will sell for hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars if they have a superior surface.