have been displayed on buildings since ancient times to add novelty to the built environment and indicate the direction from which the wind was blowing. Commonly called "weather cocks" before the late nineteenth century, the term referred to the popularity of cocks that were placed on church spires as a reminder to the faithful of Saint Peter's denial of Christ in the Bible: "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day until you three times deny that you know me" (Luke 22:34). The practice spread from England and the Continent to North America, and cocks subsequently appeared on churches throughout eastern Canada and the United States. In the eighteenth century, weathervanes grew to be a commonly seen feature on public buildings in coastal cities. Sometimes the design was a reflection or acknowledgement of the local culture or economy, such as a codfish in a city where many relied on fishing for their livelihoods. The gilt grasshopper that has perched atop Boston's Faneuil Hall since 1742 symbolizes good luck and was an apt image for the city's central market where local farmers came to sell their produce.
Mashamoquet Weathervane. New England, c. 1875; 43×60 inches.
Photo courtesy Allan Katz Americana, Woodbridge, Connecticut.
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Publication information: Book title: Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. Contributors: Gerard C.Wertkin - Editor, Lee Kogan - AssociateEditor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 546.
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