A few pointers from the pros
“Whales, fish, and mermaids are popular”
Selecting a signature piece at The Cape Cod Weathervane Company is akin to picking out a new car. “There is so much to choose from,” says owner Russell Cazeault. “We’re kind of like a gallery.”
Located in Orleans, the company offers a wide range of high-quality weathervanes, from motorcycles and dragon designs, to more traditional horses and roosters. “Being on the Cape, we do a lot of sea life,” Cazeault says. “Whales, fish, and mermaids are very popular. We ship nationwide, too, so in different areas of the country the non-nautical stuff is popular, too.”
While the company does not make the weathervanes, Cazeault says the individual products are unique in that they are all made of copper. “I don’t think there are a lot of companies that have the concentrated product mix that we have,” he says. To Cazeault, who also owns Cazeault Roofing, what’s so great about copper is that the metal doesn’t rust—and it has a personality. “It starts off bright and shiny, weathers to a nice dull brown, and then eventually, over time, develops that aged, rich green patina,” Cazeault says. “It’s just like people: it evolves.”
In addition to offering fun designs, Cazeault says weathervanes can be used for a variety of purposes. “People will put them in the garden,” he says. “I’ve seen them inside, mounted on the wall as a decoration.” He has even seen them displayed on a fireplace mantel. “It creates a nice focal point inside of the house.”
The Cape Cod Weathervane Company is at 22 Giddiah Hill Road in Orleans. For more information, call 1-800-460-1477, or visit capecodweathervanecompany.com.
A brief history of the weathervane
“The weathervane is not something that’s needed anymore,” says Brian Chabot of Cape Cod Cupola. “It’s only something that’s wanted.” And while nowadays people may be more likely to turn to their phones to get a grip on the weather, there was a time when the weathervane was more valued as a working tool.
According to tuckandholand.com, the earliest recorded mention of a weathervane was one depicting the Greek god Triton, and built in Athens in 48 B.C. Weathervanes depicting the gods were popular among wealthy landowners in Greece and pre-Christian Rome. Viking ships, traveling during the ninth century, also used bronze weathervanes as a tool for navigation, their designs often depicting animals or creatures from Norse fables.
The weathervane has quite the history in the United States as well. In the U.S., the oldest weathervane—a weathercock design brought across the Atlantic from Holand—dates back to 1656. North America’s first documented weathervane maker, Deacon Shem Drowne, made the famous grasshopper weathervane that has sat atop Faneuil Hall in Boston since 1742. President George Washington is said to have been a fan of the weather instrument and commissioned Philadelphia artist Joseph Rakestraw to create a “Dove of Peace” for his estate at Mount Vernon. Completed in 1787, the piece commemorated the end of the Revolutionary War.
During the 1800s, American weathervane manufacturers, including the prominent J.W. Fiske of New York City, began mass-producing weathervanes, from the patriotic Goddess of Liberty and the Federal Eagle to famous racing horses like Black Hawk.
Fun fact: The city of Montague, Michigan claims to be home to the world’s largest weathervane, a functioning schooner design that stands 48 feet tall with an arrow 26 feet long! The towering sculpture is located in Montague’s downtown Ellenwood Park and commemorates the sailors of the Great Lakes who explored the area in the 1800s.
Haley Cote is the staff writer for Cape Cod Life Publications.
You might also like:
With the help of world-famous designer Ken Fulk, a storied Provincetown house for creatives opens its doors once more.Read More
Potters and ceramicists across the region connect with their craft and those who love their art.Read More