W.H. Mullins
of
Salem, Ohio

Architectural
Metalwork
& Statuary
Everything about the W.H. Mullins Company was big. The statue of the god Hermann (above), created as a monument for the city of New Ulm, Minnesota, stood 32 feet high, and was the largest figure of its type ever made in the United States. It was constructed of sheet copper on a braced copper frame, as were most of Mullins' monumental figures.
The statuary was made of either sheet copper or sheet zinc, stamped in cast-iron forms up to 72" wide. The individual pieces were then soldered together and braced internally with an iron or copper skeleton. For regular production pieces, like weathervanes and architectural ornament, the cast-iron forms were used over and over; for one-of-a-kind creations, however, the molds were melted down to use on future projects.

The W.H. Mullins Company created what was probably the world's largest working weathervane. The 18-foot high, 1,800-pound figure of the goddess Diana (right) was originally constructed for New York City's Madison Square Garden, and was so delicately balanced that it revolved with only 1/2-pound of wind pressure.

The original was later removed to the agricultural building at the Chicago World's Fair and replaced by a smaller version, shown at left in the Mullins workshop.
Mullins' production weathervanes, although not nearly as grandiose, were still of an impressive midwestern scale. This dramatic running horse was 70" long.

Most of the vanes, however, were of a more conventional size. These weathervanes were available in both zinc and copper; thrifty midwestern farmers, as you would expect, usually opted for the less-expensive zinc.


Cock
22" high

Fish
25" long

Bull
10 1/2" long

Horse
24" long

Bull
16 1/2" long
There are few towns in the United States that don't have examples of monumental statuary in their public places and, if we are to believe their 1896 catalog (from which the images in this article were taken), those created by W.H. Mullins were the best.
"A large class of imitators and so-called competitors have sprung up in different parts of the country who are furnishing a cheap and inferior line of work, different entirely from the work we are making, and in many cases pirating our designs."

The best place to look for Mullins' work is on public buildings. Mullins manufactured an extensive line of eagles (we had one several years ago with a six-foot wing span), as well as heroically proportioned figures of Justice, Law, Mercy, etc. which were often incorporated into the architecture of old county courthouses. Public libraries often displayed lions, seated or standing, or figures of the Muses.

Journey from the courthouse to the town parks and cemeteries. The Civil War statues may well be by Mullins, and that statue of old Chief Hopican could easily be one of the generic Mullins Indian figures.

In addition to the impressive statuary illustrated here, W.H. Mullins also manufactured embossed tin ceilings, architectural pediments and corbels, and an extensive array of lawn and garden ornaments.

If you are in the shop and would like to leaf through our copy of the entire 1896 Mullins catalog, please just ask.

Delagrange Antiques
|| Home Page || Articles || Map & Hours ||