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Author Topic:   Weather vane

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-17-2019 11:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A wooden cow with a pewter tail recently sold at auction. (See image/quote below). The cataloger wondered in the description if the dairy farmer melted down some of the family pewter spoons to shape into a tail for the cow.

This humble portrayal of a family piece reminded me of a description in an old Natchez silver catalog from 1970. Here they described the Gorham marks as pseudo-hallmarks and in a like manner to the speculative pewter tail story wondered if a slave named Ezekiel really was the maker of the silver beaker.

Research has come a long way since this 1970 Natchez silver exhibition. I am surprised however how much speculation seems to still continue to creep into description of objects and how they were made.


Holstein Cow
American School, 19th century
carved and polychromed wood and pewter
Height 22 1/2 in. by Length 34 1/2 in.
second half-19th century
Eastern United States

Catalogue Note:
This unique carved wooden vane depicts a Holstein dairy cow, the world's most productive milk producer and a favorite of farmers in the northeastern U.S. to this day. The maker was probably a dairy farmer who owned a herd of Holsteins, and the completely different black and white patterns he painted on either side of the vane suggest he may have been creating a portrait of a specific animal. The cow's thin tail is pewter, a malleable alloy of tin that was widely used to make tableware from the Bronze Age into the late nineteenth century. One wonders if the maker of this vane melted down a couple of the family's spoons to shape into his cow's tail.

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