The very first garden gnomes have been tracked to the tiny town of Graefenroda which is a municipality in Thuringia in Germany. Graefenroda is well-known throughout the world for the ceramics produced in the town.
The earliest garden gnomes date back to the early 1800s. Auctions for these extremely valuable collectibles have resulted in extremely high returns for the original owner!
Some of the oldest and most collectible garden gnomes were created by August Heissner and Phillip Griebel. They produced large numbers of gnomes from the early 1870's until 1914. Many of these still exist and can be occasionally obtained through auctions. The descendants of Phillip Griebel still make garden gnomes to this day in the fatherland!
The traditional garden gnome was formed from terracotta clay slurry which was poured into a mold. After removal from the mold, it would dry, and then be placed in a kiln where it was fired until hard. The gnome would then be hand painted to give it a detailed life-like appearance.
The Garden Gnome of Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire, England is named Lampy. It is one of the original batches of gnomes first brought to the United Kingdom from Germany in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham. Lampy is a beloved treasure of the town. It is insured for the amount of 1 million pounds!