Discover Copper Online

Summer 1993

"Classic" Copper for Weathervanes

Traditional copper-capped cupola. Traditional copper-capped cupola.

"Sheet copper is the classic weathervane material. It's light, easy to work with and doesn't rust," said J. Donald Felix. The Hampton, New Hampshire, artisan has been making vanes for 20 years. Felix creates his vanes freehand, drawing a pattern on cardboard. He then scribes it on 16-ounce cold-rolled copper sheet, cutting it out with an electric shears and snips. His vanes start at $200.

Copper is also the favorite material of Al and aBeth Denninger, who make weathervanes and copper-roofed cupolas. The Denningers' vanes are distinctive for their inserts of stained glass. Their cupolas, which are made of redwood, are each crowned with a copper weathervane. Prices range from $995 up to $3,595. The weathervanes range up to $3,228 for the largest federal eagle in hammered copper.

Owners of rare vanes have been ordering lately from craftsmen like Felix and the Denningers. This is because rare vanes have appreciated so much in value-the record auction price is $770,000! To protect their investments, the owners of valuable antique vanes replace them with faithful reproductions.

Copper weathervane with stained glass inserts. Copper weathervane with stained glass inserts.

Felix reproduced a four-foot-long, circa 1860 weathervane depicting a horse-drawn Amoskeag steam pump. The original, which crowned the old firehouse in Concord, New Hampshire, has an estimated value of $200,000. His copy now adorns the firehouse, which has been converted into an office building.

Felix obtains his copper from Admiralty Brass & Copper, Woburn, or Cambridge Street Metals, Cambridge, both in Massachusetts. The Middletown, New York-based Denningers purchase the soft and cold-rolled copper for cupolas from Passaic Metal Products, Clifton, New Jersey, a distributor for Revere Copper Products. The copper and brass for their vanes comes from Rotax, Brooklyn, New York.

Weathervanes are believed to have been invented by the Romans. Paul Revere, the patriot and famed silversmith, also made copper vanes. His apprentice, Shem Drowne, created the fanciful copper grasshopper vane atop Faneuil Hall in Boston (see Copper Topics, No. 74) over 200 years ago.

Denninger Products: 914/343-2229
Felix: 603/474-2225

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