If you can’t afford a rooster or running deer weather vane, or any other 19th century weather vane made by an important company, you might be able to find a homemade example.
Most folk-art collectors consider all weather vanes, commercially made or homemade, to be folk art. Prices are highest for the most elaborate 3-D vanes by known makers. Homemade vanes often are cut from sheets of iron to look like silhouettes of deer, men, animals, birds, cars, trains, Indians, flags or occupational examples, like a photographer with a camera or a sailor with a telescope.
It is difficult to date a homemade weather vane. Collectors pay the highest auction prices for good design, unusual subjects, good paint and old patina. Bullet holes, missing paint and dents don’t seem to lower the value if the cutout is unusual, perhaps a 1930s car or a large and artistic whale. Some homemade vanes sell for thousands of dollars, but others might turn up at your local yard sale or flea market. Whirligig weathervanes, often of wood, also are going up in price. Horses, roosters and eagles are the most popular shapes today and, unfortunately, often are the most reproduced. Always look in the backyard, in the garage and up at the roof when going to an estate or house sale. Buyers often overlook outdoor folk art.
Q: Years ago, I was given a very heavy glass vase. It’s 6 inches high by 4½ inches wide and is made of black cased glass within clear glass. The etched mark on the bottom is “Kosta 1556/046.” I’m wondering what the vase is worth.
A: The Kosta glassworks factory in Sweden dates back to 1742. Kosta manufactured only window glass, glass for light fixtures and drinking glasses until the late 1890s, when it hired its own designers and started making art glass. Glass artist Vicke Lindstrand (1904-1983), who had previously worked at Orrefors, was Kosta’s artistic director from 1950 to 1973. During Lindstrand’s tenure, model numbers starting with a “1” were “production vases” made in large quantities. The number 1556 on your vase probably is the model number. Kosta merged with Boda and Afors in 1976 and became Kosta Boda, so it’s likely your vase was made before 1976. In 1989 Kosta Boda merged with Orrefors and was renamed Orrefors Kosta Boda. Then, in 2005, the company was sold to the New Wave Group, which closed the Orrefors factory and today uses only the Kosta Boda label. While your vase may not extremely valuable, it still is a good piece of Swedish art glass.