A useful explanation of what a barn star is, and what it means, is necessarily more about what it’s not.
More popular than ever, this simple metal or wooden wall adornment — often in the form of a five-pointed star — is the subject of much confused speculation.
What is true is that they first appeared (although they may have previously existed in Europe) on barns in the regions of Pennsylvania which were in large part populated by German and Dutch immigrants and their descendents. From this fact comes the often repeated notion that they were associated with the Old Order Amish (many, including other retailers, even call them “Amish Barn Stars”). This is not only inaccurate, but fairly ridiculous — it takes only the slightest knowledge of Amish traditions to realize that a large, colorful object with no purpose other than adornment would be the last thing you’d see on an Old Order farm.
In fact, the barn star originates with their non-Amish neighbors, known to some as the “Fancy Dutch” in order to distinguish them from “Plain Dutch” communities like the Amish. They may have been the trademarks of professional barn-builders, and they may have been thought of as lucky symbols. Ultimately, as their numbers increased following the Civil War, there’s little doubt that the barn star was just what it appeared to be — a bold and distinctive decoration for a large wall space calling out for one.
With the advent of the automobile early in the 20th. century, barn stars began to attract the attention of more and more passing tourists. Some took home replicas and hung them both inside and out, spreading this folk art tradition to all corners of the continent.
Our own Barn Stars at Relaxed Cottage Living are handmade in the U.S.A. from 100% copper, to last in continuing beauty on either an interior or exterior wall. In fact, they’re designed to develop an attractive patina over time, especially in the elements. If you’re thinking of adding one of these American classics to your wall, make a point of checking them out.