Antique weathervane stolen 40 years ago returns to Vermont

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HARTFORD — An antique copper weathervane that was stolen from the White River Junction railway station 40 years ago has been returned to Vermont through a concerted effort to identify and retrieve it.

The 1910 weathervane, depicting a steam locomotive and a coal tender, was perched atop the White River Junction Station until its theft on November 3, 1983.

Theft of weathervanes was common due to their outdoor placement and ease of removal, as they sit on a spindle to move with the wind.

Nearly four decades after the theft, the weathervane was consigned to a New York auction house.

The Art Loss Register (ALR), which checks items against a database of stolen art for auction houses worldwide, identified the Vermont weathervane as the stolen piece, leading the auction house to withdraw it from sale.

The State of Vermont, which currently owns the White River Junction station, worked with the ALR and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) to return the weathervane last week.

“We are delighted to see this valuable historic artifact and beautiful piece of art returned to its home here in Vermont,” said Judith Ehrlich, AOT’s Historic Preservation Officer. “We are working with the Vermont State Curator to select a great location for the weathervane so that it may be enjoyed once more.”

The weathervane was produced by W.A. Snow Iron Works Inc. and was returned by a generous donor to the State of Vermont. Sotheby’s covered the $2,300 cost to ship it safely home.

Prior to its theft, the best record of the weathervane was a black and white photograph taken when it was above the Amtrak station in White River Junction.

The ALR confirmed the identity of the weathervane through the distinctive patina on the coal tender and engine, matching it to the stolen artifact.

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