Our charming decorative outdoor gnomes have found a place in the heart of most Western cultures. We can find the first stories of gnomes showing up in European folklore. These mystical creatures were understood to be creatures of goodwill. Under the cover of darkness they would reward the efforts and enterprise of farmers, merchant traders and wives through lending assistance in the garden fields, stores and in home gardens.
Ceramic gnomes were first crafted in the countryside of Germany. Their creator was Phillip Griebel and gnomes first came into being in the mid-nineteenth century. The gnomes were purchased for superstitious and metaphysical reasons as they were believed to fend off thieves from grain and vegetable supplies.
Gnomes were brought into England by Sir Charles Isham and this happened in 1847. Isham was wanting to spice up his garden with a burst of color and he found that the gnome was the ideal way to go about it. One of Isham’s surviving gnomes is valued at over two million pounds sterling.
Griebel was originally only making statuary in the form of deer and fairies. When he began manufacturing the gnomes, demand skyrocketed. Demand exceeded supply and the gnomes were a hit amongst the German customer base.
Manufacturing the humble gnomes continued until the start of World War I. The ability to maintain production was affected by the German war efforts but production resumed in the mid 1940s. Communist police had suspicions that the garden gnomes were being used as conduits for smugglers but the gnomes went on to become the leading export of Eastern Germany.
The fall of Communism lead to the market becoming flooded by cheap imported Czech and Polish imitation garden gnomes. The legacy of Griebel’s original garden gnome design continues on today with the family’s original manufacturing plant still standing in Central Germany.
Garden gnomes today can be found frozen in many positions such as riding a motorcycle, wearing roller skates or even holding solar lights. They have been completely revamped to suit the variety of peoples’ modern day interests and hobbies.
Garden gnomes remain to be one of the most popular garden ornaments on the market today. Garden gnomes are now being manufactured from a number of different materials – resin, concrete, cement, and ceramic. These endearing little garden gnomes are traditionally made to be less than 14″ tall although they do come in a variety of different heights.
Gnomes have been used as decorative garden ornaments since 1847 and their popularity continues today.