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