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Copper Weather Vanes - They Tell What's Blowin' In The Wind

Nov 5, 2007
With the dawn of space age satellites, weather channels and the Internet, it's hard to believe there was a time when the only way to predict the weather was to look outside.

For eons, this has been the case. From earliest Mesopotamia until the beginning of the space race, professional and amateur forecasters alike had to rely on more primitive ways to tell the weather.

Barometers and thermometers did a yeoman's job, but they couldn't tell you which way the wind was blowing. And as Bob Dylan once sang, "the answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind."

Of course, Bob wasn't talking about the weather, but he could have been. With the wind comes the weather, whether you're wondering if a nor'easter is coming in from the Atlantic, a hurricane from the Caribbean, or the Santa Ana's on the California coastline.

Even today, copper weather vanes continue to be one of the best ways to predict whether the weather is going to take a turn for the better or worse. Copper weather vanes predate their popularity in Europe. In fact, they were first mentioned in ancient Mesopotamia more than 3,500 years ago.

Copper weather vanes can do one thing a weatherman can't. They can tell you what the wind is doing in your own yard. They are one of those low tech, ingenious inventions that are not only functional, but beautiful as well.

Mounted on the highest point of any structure, copper weather vanes need a clear space for the wind to blow by it. You don't have to go crazy, like the folks along White Lake in Michigan who erected a 48-foot vane. But you do want to get your copper weather vane up there in the open.

Copper weather vanes come in an endless array of styles and sizes. Some are adorned with ornamentations such as roosters, whales or ships. Still others are decorated with more modern themes, including Harleys. Today's weather vane is as much a statement about you and your interests as it is about being a weather indicator.

Of course, few people use copper weather vanes to tell the weather any more. The Weather Channel has pretty much sealed its fate. But it still makes a great addition to your home. Copper weather vanes create a focal point on the exterior of your home. The vane constantly shifting in the wind draws the eye to that part of your house. As such, you want to mount it with this in mind.

If you want to purchase antique copper weather vanes for your home, be prepared to bring a lot of money with you. The golden age of weather vanes occurred during the late 1800s. Copper weather vanes from this period can sell for anywhere between $50,000 and $750,000 at auction.

While the thought of spending that much may leave you a bit winded, it clearly shows America's love affair with copper weather vanes, both new and old. It is a classic piece of Americana whose roots go back to the beginning of civilization in the plains of Mesopotamia.
About the Author
Jesse Akre, author and owner of websites offers incite on copper weathervanes, garden finials and weathervane cupola.
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