Figural sprinklers: An original garden piece

Wisconsin State Farmer
 This iron frog sits on a ball on a curvy base while balancing a sprinkler on his nose, waiting to water the lawn. The rare figure, even though repainted, auctioned for $780 at a Bertoia auction in June of last year.

Decorators and gardening columnists are reporting that the latest look for a garden includes furnishings to make it look like an indoor room. Chairs, tables, rugs, cushions, statues, urns, fountains, hanging decorations, fancy birdhouses and even gnomes and fake animals are half-hidden in the flowers. But one vintage garden piece that has not been copied is the figural sprinkler, the piece that attaches to the hose and stands on the grass to water the yard.

Companies made the first figural sprinklers in about 1910, and by the 1920s and '30s, there were many manufacturers with similar ideas. Iron sprinklers shaped like animals, birds, people and frogs were made. Firestone made flat cut-out metal figures holding hoses that turned as the lawn was watered. These were copied in wood and painted in school shop classes.

By the 1940s, Bakelite and other colorful plastics were used, and shapes were modern boxes or balls. One was a huge orange sunflower. Today, there is a tall pole that turns to send a spray that looks like a flower. Figural iron sprinklers are now considered folk art and sell for thousands. The others still are inexpensive garden art.

       * * *
Q: My felt Batman pennant is marked "National Periodical Publications Inc." from 1966. It pictures Batman and Robin swinging into action and is in good condition. I'm wondering how much it is worth. 
A: Batman and Robin are characters created by Bob Kane. Batman first appeared as "Bat-Man" in a 1939 issue of "Detective Comics." The first Batman comic book was published in 1940. National Periodical Publications published several "Batman" comic books beginning in 1966, and the characters also became part of a television series that year. The pennants sell for about $50 if in excellent condition.
       * * *
Q: About 30 years ago, I bought an old organ at an antiques show. I want to sell it, but don't know how old it is. It is marked Archibald-Ramsden Leeds. Do you know the age? 
A: Archibald Ramsden was in business in Leeds, England, from about 1864 to the 1950s. A branch store in London was opened later. The company sold organs, pianos, harmoniums and sheet music. The founder of the company, E. Archibald Ramsden (1835-1916), also was a performer and inventor who held several patents for improvements to organs and harmoniums. In 1872, the company moved into a new building that included offices, warehouses and a "music saloon," where musical performances were held. After Ramsden died, his son, also named Archibald, took over the business in Leeds. Unless the organ has a serial number or patent number, there is no way to date it except by the style. Old organs don't sell very well. An Archibald Ramsden organ sold at an auction in 2016 for $26, below the estimate for $50 to $100.
       * * *
Q: I have a vase called "Three Graces, Diana." It's marked with a crown with the year 1891 above it, the letter "E" on one side and "S" on the other, and "Germany" below. Can you tell me who made this vase and how old it is?
A: This mark was used by Erdmann Schlegelmilch Porcelain Factory in Suhl, Thuringia, Germany. The factory was founded by Leonard Schlegelmilch in 1861 and named after his late father, Erdmann. Decorative and household porcelain, coffee and tea sets, and figurines were made. Porcelain bodies for perfume lamps also were made. Production declined during the Great Depression, and the factory closed in 1937.
       * * *
Q: I was given a silver tray by a friend at least 25 years ago. It's marked "Rogers, Smith & Co., New Haven, Conn." and is 10 1/4 inches long and 7 3/4 inches wide. There are figural birds on all four corners, a flower design in the center, and a horse head on each side. They must mean something, but I can't figure out what. Do you have any idea?
A: Rogers, Smith & Co. was founded by William Rogers and George W. Smith in 1857 in Hartford, Connecticut. It merged with Rogers Brothers Mfg. Co. in 1861. The company made Britannia ware and silver-plated items. In 1862, after several sales and breakups, the hollowware division was moved to New Haven. The company became part of International Silver Co. in 1898. Your tray was made between 1862 and 1877, when the company was in New Haven. Your dish poses an interesting puzzle. Perhaps it is connected to a hunt, since it has horse heads and game birds. Perhaps it's a fancy serving dish. We welcome any suggestions from our readers. With no idea what it was used for, a silver plate dish is worth about $100.
       * * *
Tip: If you own a wicker chair that makes small popping noises when you sit in it, dampen it with water. It is too dry, and wicker may crack if not kept moist.
       * * *
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
       * * *


Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
Pitcher, silver, lid, hinged, inset Irish coin, armorial, hammered, 1800s, Ireland, 6 inches, $90.
Beatles board game, Flip Your Wig, 4 band member playing pieces, multicolor, box, Milton Bradley, 1964, $150.
Lamp, electric, one-light, dancers, flutist, blue ground, Marcello Fantoni, Italy, 1900s, 27 x 5 1/2 inches, $240.
Pencil, mechanical, Mont Blanc, gold plate, resin, leather case, 3 1/4 x 7 3/4 inches, $315.
Easel, walnut, adjustable, wheels, hand crank, Anco, 70 x 28 inches, $505.
Sevres urn, bronze, woman, cupid, flowers, putti handles, pineapple finial, 17 inches, $555.
Quilt, appliqued, flowers, urns, bud and vine border, red, yellow, green, 1850s, 92 x 100 inches, $770.
Meissen urn, cobalt blue, double handles, figural white snakes, 19 inches, $800.
Candelabra, 4-light, nickle plated brass, squared arms, round base, K. Hagenauer, 1900s, 20 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches, $2,140.
Wooden sculpture, boxing men, yellow pants, black shoes, 45 x 50 1/2 inches, $3,075.
       * * *
Available for pre-order today: The all new Kovels Antiques & Collectibles 2019 Price Guide. It's the only antiques price guide that empowers collectors with the most up-to-date price information based on actual sales and market data. Featuring an easy-to-read format with tips, marks and logos, the 2019 Price Guide includes 16,000 prices and more than 2,500 beautiful pictures.

Plus, for the first time, you'll receive 500 factory marks to identify your antiques, a special section on "What's Hot and What's Not" in the antiques and collectibles market, and record prices for the year. Order the Price book today, and get a FREE "Fakes" Booklet. It's just $29.99, plus $4.95 postage and handling. 

To order, go to, or call 800-303-1996; or write to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.