Prior to the invention of the barometer in the 17th century, weather vanes were indispensable instruments for observing and predicting the weather. These 45¢ denominated stamps feature photographs of five eye-catching weather vanes made in the United States during the 19th century. All five weather vanes — a cow, an eagle, two roosters, and a centaur — belong to the collection of the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont.
Before 1850, American weather vanes were largely the work of individual craftsmen or skilled amateurs. However, during the second half of the 19th century, factories around Boston and New York City began mass-producing them, ushering in what collectors now consider the golden age of American weather vanes. Today, weather vanes from this period are not only valuable collectibles, but also intriguing examples of American folk art.