The first garden gnomes were created in Germany in the early 1800s and were made of clay. In the mid 1800s, Sir Charles Isham brought these terracotta gnomes figures back from Germany and placed them in his garden, in the UK, to protect the other items that he had stored there.
Only one of the original terracotta gnomes that he brought back survives to this day and is thought to be worth one million dollars!
Over time, the reputation of garden gnomes began to spread from Germany to various countries around Europe, particularly those countries where gardening is taken more seriously.
In the second half of the 1800s, the first mass produced gnomes were being made and the two big companies within this industry were Philipp Griebel and August Heissner, the latter successfully selling gnomes around the world.
The mass production of gnomes in Germany stopped after the two world wars and it was in the 1960s when plastic gnomes came onto the scene which are similar to the kind of gnomes that many of us will have in our gardens these days.
Why are They so Popular?
Gnomes have a long and illustrious history that continues to this day. There are a number of reasons why people started to buy gnomes in the early years and still to this day such as the thought that they bring good luck to the owner. We do not know of any solid evidence why gnomes are considered particularly lucky items but that is the general thought that is associated with them.
As well as their luck value, the first gnomes created were also thought to provide protection for example farmers would add them to their fields to protect their crops and garden owners would add them to protect the items they had such as minerals and buried treasure such as gold.
These days, gnomes have evolved to the point where you can find gnomes that are based around any theme. Some of the more extreme gnomes include zombie and combat ones as well as designs which are based around famous sports teams.
They are often included in different sorts of media with video games like the extremely popular Fortnite including features where you need to hunt for gnomes. Movies are even based around them with the recent film, Sherlock Gnomes, being a combination of the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and gnome characters.
Looking ahead, the future seems bright for gnomes as many people love a quirky item in their garden and there is almost an unlimited amount of things that you can do to make gnomes stand out and be original. An easy way to do this is to base them around new forms of popular culture, for example, people design them around the latest popular movie, video game or TV show.
The fact that they are at least a couple of hundred years old gives them lots of credibility that people love to associate with things, especially those that they place in the home and garden. Everyone knows what a gnome is so when people invite their friends to visit their home, they make for a great talking point.
Many people are still superstitious and very much appreciate and find comfort in the thought that gnomes will bring them good luck and protect the items in their gardens. Many people are doing more inventive and original things with their gardens such as growing more of their own food and storing more things there so find lots of comfort in an item that will aid in protecting these things.