Collecting, cleaning, displaying, researching, and appreciating TRIVETS and related go-withs!

Collectible sprinkler bottles, Part 1


Are you old enough to remember sprinkler bottles? They were a staple of home ironing before the advent of the steam iron. On ironing day clothes were sprinkled, rolled up and placed in the refrigerator so they wouldn’t dry out or sour. The sprinkler was also handy for quick ironing touch ups.

Dampening fabric prior to ironing helped to release wrinkles and a glass soda bottle with a cork sprinkler inserted worked just fine; but housewives desired more decorative sprinklers. Manufacturers obliged by creating bottles of plastic, ceramic and glass in a myriad of sizes, shapes and colors.

Although the era of the sprinkler bottle has passed, the interest in collecting them is ever growing. Quality, condition, rarity and aesthetic appeal drive the market. Today vintage sprinkler bottles from the 1940s and 1950s are highly prized and the hunt is on to find examples free of damage and with minimal age related crazing.

I hadn’t really considered collecting sprinkler bottles until attending the 2011 PITCA Convention and discovering some for sale. There I bought my first sprinkler, the turquoise Clothespin … the beginning of a collection that now numbers over a dozen.

My bottles vary in height from 6” to 9” tall. Most are ceramic, but I do have a few plastic examples. All bottles are originals with the exception of one: a well-done modern ceramic replica of the 1950s California Cleminson Fireman created in 2011 and signed by S. Roberts of California. Considering an original Cleminson Fireman (if you can find one) sells for over $1500, I’m very happy with my reproduction!

Reference books and articles are few. The second edition of Collectibles for the Kitchen, Bath & Beyond by Krause Publications (softbound, 2001) contains an informative 22-page illustrated chapter detailing the most collectible ceramic, plastic and glass sprinkler bottles.

And two magazines also have good articles; I found my copies on eBay.

● American Country Collectibles, Summer 1994, “Damp It!” by Carol & Jimmy Walker
● Collectibles Flea Market Finds, Fall 1996, “Figural Sprinkler Bottles” by Cathy Cook

So keep an eye out for these vintage treasures. Good luck and happy collecting!

UPDATE 8/15/18: See Collectible sprinkler bottles, Part 2

2 comments on “Collectible sprinkler bottles, Part 1

  1. Julie
    September 24, 2017

    I’ve been remembering my precious Mother ironing and the plastic bottle she used (what I’m seeing in my mind anyway) was yellow and white. I’ve seen the exact bottle on Pinterest (Sew-Rite 1960’s easy to fill clothes sprinkler, $.39, about 7″ tall), but I’m not seeing the color I remember her using. Yesterday, my dear Mother and I looked several places where we thought she may have stored it away, but no luck. I’d love to show her a picture at least. Thanks so much for your time and efforts for me on this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynn Rosack
      September 24, 2017

      I believe the 1960s era Sew-Rite plastic sprinkle bottle you mention featured a molded laundry basket base. I’ve never seen one in yellow with a white cap but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. This brand of plastic sprinkler doesn’t appear in the reference book Collectibles for the Kitchen Bath & Beyond. There are 3 pictured on Google Images in white, beige, and olive green using the Search words “Sew-Rite Clothes Sprinkler”. Here’s the green version. I hope this helps!


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This entry was posted on February 2, 2016 by in Go-Withs, References for Collectors, Sprinkler Bottles and tagged , , .

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Renningers Extravaganza in Mt Dora, Florida is a great place to find laundry day collectibles! There are three upcoming events: November 16, 17 & 18, 2018; January 18, 19 & 20, 2019; and February 15, 16 & 17, 2019.

The 2019 PITCA Convention will be held Friday, August 2nd and Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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