A Decorative c.1900 Folk Art Cut Metal Weather Vane Finial in the Form of a Flag


Origin: Probably American
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1880-1900
Height: 10 inches (flag)
Length: 23.75 inches (flag)
Height: 24 inches (the whole with stand)

The turn of the century cut metal sheet iron weather vane finial with a split flag buffer, paint decorated in blues on a red ground, now presented as a decorative element and raised on a later stand.

The condition of the weather vane is sound, there is some rather desirable patination and rust discolouration commensurate with its use outside with the elements. Structurally both the vane and stand are in good solid order.

Weathervanes are one of the oldest forms of weather prediction and are mentioned in the ancient writings of Mesopotamia, from over 3500 years ago. The Chinese also talk about strings or flags being used to read wind direction in writings dated to the 2nd Century B.C. The word 'vane' comes from the Old English word fana meaning 'flag' so this weather vane is just that, a billowing weather flag, as it were.

Weathervanes were popular among rural populations of the U.S.A due to the fact that many farmers were isolated from the local towns and couldn’t rely on the communal weathervanes located on the church roof or Town Hall. As their popularity spread, home-owners in the U.S. began to create unusual and whimsical designs such as this one. The "Golden Age" of weathervanes in the United States is thought to be the latter half of the 19th century, as the country grew and expanded westward, unusual weathervanes began to pop up on the houses, flagpoles and buildings of the new cities and towns of this young country.

Pieces of folk art themselves are ephemeral, simple, and often crude, though they are always enchanting. They were made by unskilled people, usually provincially, for everyday use and enjoyment, and are naively decorated, and made of basic materials. Folk art provides an excellent insight into the everyday life of ordinary people in times of old, and for that reason we love it.

This folksy weather vane is now blowing a gale as a tabletop ornament with high decorative merit.