Antiques & Collecting: Watering cans sprinkled with style

Ever wonder who invented the first watering can? When were small gardens numerous enough to have customers willing to pay for a better way to carry water to their plants?

Historic records say the first was a watering pot made in about 1580. It was a container with a handle and small holes in the bottom for the water to flow out.

It was another 50 to 100 years before someone thought of adding a spout. The earliest mention in print was in 1692 in Timothy Keeble’s diary.

Early watering cans were made of pottery, then zinc, brass, copper, tin and other metals. They were bucket-shaped, then milk-can shaped and then funnel-shaped. More recently, there were small watering cans that hold liquid in a round ball shape with a spout.

Twentieth-century watering cans can be plastic, tin or even canvas. Every shape includes a round hollow part that empties through a spout with tiny holes. It is called a “rose.” It was the early 1900s before sprinkling cans were mass-produced and had a metal company’s logo included on a tag or impression.

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