Antiques: Weather vanes helpful & attractive – Entertainment & Life – The Columbus Dispatch

The recent floods in Houston and the hurricanes in Florida and the Caribbean show how important weather, rain and wind are to everyday life now and in the distant past.

Weathervanes told the direction of the wind and aided in forecasting the weather. The earliest known weathervane was used as early as 48 B.C. in Greece. It was the shape of a god: half man, half fish.

The first American weathervane was used in Albany, New York, in 1656. The best-known early weathervane is a rooster put on a Boston building in 1742. During the mid-1700s, makers created weathervanes in many shapes, including a Native Americans and even a dove of peace for President George Washington’s home in Mt. Vernon.

By the 1800s, weathervanes were featured on many roofs as decorations as well as useful additions. The Goddess Liberty and the American eagle were designs that celebrated the new country. But another favored design was a reminder of a popular sport, the racehorse. Today, collectors want the factory-made metal weathervanes of the past or the antique flat folk-art copies made from sheet metal.

It took $18,150 to buy this Fiske & Co. ”American Girl” horse and sulky molded copper weathervane at a James Julia auction. Like many weathervanes, it has a bullet hole made when someone used it for target practice. The weathervane honored a famous horse that raced from 1868 to 1875. She died in the middle of an important race.

The racetrack built a statue of the horse, and the country remembered American Girl as a horse who tried her best in every race.

Q: When did Judith Leiber start making her jeweled purses? I have my mother’s purse, which looks like a pile of books. Is it valuable?

A: Judith Leiber purses were first made in 1963. She sold the company and the name in 1993, but she continued designing until 2004. Her jeweled handbags in great condition sell for hundreds of dollars. The pile of books purse has sold for…

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