Collectible Liberty Goddess Weathervane
Cushing & White molded and painted copper Liberty Goddess dated September 12, 1865 weathervane Waltham, Massachusetts: Property From The Alvin E. Friedman-Kien Foundation, 24x10x5
Replacement Value: $805,000
Exhibiting a graceful pose and a vibrant animation characteristic of the most successful of weathervanes, this magnificent Liberty Goddess weathervane is in exceptional condition and has few rivals. While most Liberty Goddess weathervanes are unstamped, and attribution to a specific maker is difficult or impossible, this weathervane bears the distinctive stamp of her maker: Cushing & White of Waltham, Massachusetts.
The stamp also bears the date in which this model was patented: September 12, 1865.
After the War of 1812, nationalistic enthusiasm soared and patriotic motifs such as eagles and Liberty figures were widely sought in all aspects of American material culture. While most Liberty Goddess weathervanes were made after 1850, they were in response to that patriotic demand. The Goddess is depicted in her Phrygian cap and holding the flag while her other hand points into the wind. This cap was included in political cartoons prior to and during the Revolution and at that time became a popular symbol in America’s struggle for freedom.
The original design for this vane was patented September 12, 1965. The flag is pierced with a hole, which shows it was probably used for target practice. The round slug of metal in the center of the skirt is impressed with the maker’s name and patent date.
Other superlative examples of Cushing & White’s model of the Liberty Goddess weathervane can be seen at the Smithsonian Institution, the Shelburne Museum, the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, as well as in a few private collections.
Christie’s, Sale 1861, Property From The Alvin E. Friedman-Kien Foundation, 19 January 2007
“A Gallery of American Weathervanes and Whirligigs” by Robert Bishop & Patricia Coblentz