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What is a Weather Vane?

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: weath'-er-vane, noun, a device for indicating wind direction.

While some purists insist that the proper term is "wind vane", we prefer the historically accepted and most used "weather vane". We also believe that a picture would best describe a weather vane, so here goes....

Parts of a Weather Vane Diagram - Denninger Double Feathered Arrow

There are only two basic rules that must be followed when designing a weather vane:
1.) The ornament must have unequal area on either side of center.
2.) The ornament must have equal mass on either side of center.

A properly designed and balanced weathervane will traditionally point into the wind, thereby showing the direction that the wind is coming from. Unless of course, it is designed otherwise as in our Dragon design that was designed to face his back to the wind. But then a Dragon can do whatever he wants, can't he?

Fine quality weather vanes have always been an excellent investment.
Antique vanes are currently in great demand, and fine contemporary copperwork will also prove to gain in value as time passes.


ARROWS AND SCROLLS - A basic arrow ornament is just that, a point and fletching attached to a horizontal tube. Sometimes the terms "arrows" and "scrolls" are interchangeable. This depends on the type of fletching, whether there is a point and what type it is, how intricate the details are and whether the design contains any actual wrought scrolls.

Denninger Stanford Arrow Weathervane
"Stanford Arrow" - this traditional design is also called a "church scroll" by many 19th century Weather Vane Makers

For more information about Arrows and Scrolls go to Denninger Scrolls, Banners and Arrows.

BANNERS AND BANNERETS - Derived from Medieval pennants and flags, the basic parts are a point in front and a flat area in back. Though the terms "banner" and "banneret" also seem to be interchangeable, a banner usually has an area large enough for a date or monogram to be pierced (cut out) or applied, while a banneret has an area which might be large but is mainly decorative.

Denninger Westervelt Banner Weather Vane
"Westervelt Banner" - the date of the building is cut out of the tail of the banner to allow the "sky" to illiuminate the numbers

For more information about Banners and Bannerets go to Denninger Scrolls, Banners and Arrows.

SILHOUETTES - This style ornament has also been in use for centuries. In Europe, businesses and guilds would display their specialty using this type of vane. In both the old and new worlds, many farmers would carve a piece of wood into a simple figure for use as a wind indicator on their barns. After 1900, the silhouette became very popular again, and often depicted fables, sporting events or humorous themes. Silhouettes can be varied with layering and many types of artistic metalworking techniques.

Denninger Silhouette Heron Weather Vane

"Heron" - an example of the simple yet flowing form that can be achieved with a silhouette vane.

For more information on Silhouettes go to Denninger Custom Silhouette Weather Vanes.

SWELL-BODIED - This is the ornament most closely associated with the heyday of American weather vane makers. Molds are created, into which sheet copper is hammered. The pieces are trimmed, then soldered together into a hollow form a few inches thick. These vanes can also be formed freehand.

Black Hawk Horse Weather Vane

"Black Hawk" - this horse, foaled in New Hampshire in 1833, was a winning trotter in the early 1840's.

For more information on Swell-bodied Weather Vanes go to Hand Hammered Copper Weather Vanes.

FULL-BODIED - These ornaments are truly 3-dimensional representations of a subject.

Cow Weather Vane

Full-bodied Cow Weather Vane (made up of 27 repoussé and cast bronze parts)

For more information on Full-bodied Weather Vanes go to Hand Hammered Copper Weather Vanes.

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Alfred H. and Beth R. Denninger, Webmasters
Denninger Weather Vanes & Finials, 3773 Marion County 160, Theodosia, MO. 65761 USA
870-204-4791 | 417-712-4991
All contents © 1988-2016 AHD. All Rights Reserved.
Copying of our original material, photos or designs without permission is strictly prohibited. "The Weather Vane Home Page" has been online since Feb. 27, 1996