Gnome Home

I don’t know what the weather is like where ya’ll live, but here in Richmond, VA, spring has sprung! Daffodils are popping, the trees have buds on them and bees are starting to buzz around the lavender and rosemary in my garden. I am a new gardener, as I really started getting serious about it 6 or 7 years ago. I love a random, wild garden too…with no real rhyme or reason…chock-o-block full with bushy sage and multicolored perennials.

Here's my little friend...ain't he cute?

I mostly let the color and fragrance of my small garden showcase itself and feel it’s unnecessary to crowd it with other décor. However, there is one garden staple that this gal can’t live without…the garden gnome. I am bonkers for gnomes!!! You know the way some women squeal when they see a newborn baby or a wedding ring? That’s the way I get when I see a really great looking garden gnome. Especially if it’s antique…even better!

I once had a really beautiful gnome that lived in my garden, but sadly he was stolen about 6 years ago. About two years after the tragedy, my parents surprised me with this fellow. He was purchased at the Metrolina antique show in Charlotte, NC. The dealer told my parents that he was made around WWI and could be either American or German made. It didn’t matter to me…it was true love. The heavy cast iron…the aged patina…he was perfect in every way! And this one was not going to live in my garden, where he could get stolen or rust away from wind and rain. Oh no! He was going to have to look at my garden from a window inside my house.

Here he is again...welcoming visitors at the front door

I’d love to find out more about him. I was tempted to take him to Antiques Roadshow with me last summer, but this sucker weighs a ton. The thought of carrying him around all day, waiting in long lines while being weighed down by a backpack was a total bummer. Needless to say, he stayed home.

Gnome History

Gnomes have been gracing gardens since the early1600’s in Europe. Their popularity really spread in the early 1800’s in Germany and Switzerland (later France and England) and was considered good luck for homeowners, as they watched over the garden in the nighttime. Philip Griebel became a very famous gnome maker in Germany (where his descendants still produce these gnomes) who produced these from 1870-1914, out of terracotta and paint.

A great photo capturing a family with their gnome, circa 1900. (photo: Tracy's Toys)

As time went on, serious gardeners began to turn their noses at these accessories and these playful figures soon started appearing on lawns in suburbs everywhere.

Children marching around garden gnome, probably around 1940-1950.

Treasured Gnomes

Do not be too quick to scoff at these little collectible characters. Antique garden gnomes can have a hefty price tag. Cast iron gnomes made by Bradley and Hubbard (1852 – 1940) can fetch up to $2,000.

Bradley & Hubbard garden gnome from Fontaine's Auctions.

The world’s most valuable gnome is known as “Lampy,” and resides in Northamptonshire, England. Insured for 1 million pounds, he is the oldest known existing garden gnome and was part of a set of 21 gnomes that were brought back to England in the 1840’s from Germany by Sir Charles Isham.

A group of gnomes at Lamport Hall in 1897.

Sir Charles’ daughter apparently hated these little fellows and had them all destroyed, but missed Lampy, who was well hidden in the garden at Lamport Hall. I guess these little gnomes bring good luck after all!!

Lampy the Gnome, in all his 1 million pound glory!

Another great photo of Lampy, showing the wonderful craftsmanship!

Do you have a cherished gnome in your garden?

Read more about Lampy’s story here!

Copyright 2012. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.

7 thoughts on “Gnome Home

  1. hi there….im a gnome lover too…i have a similar iron gnome to yours….hes made by hubley not hubbard…..i imported him from the usa….they were made in the 1920’s ….he represents the little man who looked after greman wine sellers,hence the lamp…..theres another famous usa based maker..look for dick bros pen…….i also have a copy of one of these…again imported to the uk from the usa……kind regards dave

      • hi,
        I have a heissner gnome that I was wondering if someone could help me date and value. I cant seem to find a similar one on here except in the history of the gnome website, I can email a picture if you think you can help me. Thanks

  2. Hi Jessie – One place you may want to check out is CollectorsWeekly.com. It’s a great resource with articles and forums from other collectors – who collect just about everything under the sun.
    Thanks for visiting my blog!
    – Erin

  3. Great story. We too have a gnome that looks just like yours. He was affectionately called Mr. Elf. We ( the grand kids). Would write notes to Mr. Elf, and overnight he would respond.

  4. Hello there. I have a ’46 West Germany’ Terra Cotta Gnome. It’s great shape. I was wondering what kind of value these may have. Thanks!

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