Gnomes provoke debate but often cost less than £50

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

Last week with the weather getting better, I started talking about gardening.

Until I put my mind to it I’d quite forgotten how much I love gardening as I get so little relaxation time to indulge in this particular hobby.

But after my mutterings last week I felt inspired and decided to book tickets for the BBC Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC Birmingham this weekend.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

I didn’t mention the garden gnome to you, which surely has to be the most popular gardening collectable.

Love them or loathe them, you cant deny they are very interesting and usually provoke a debate about them one way or another.

The earliest gnomes date from the 18th century, but they became established during the Victorian era thanks to Sir Charles Isham who developed a miniature rock garden at his Northamptonshire home, Lampart Hall.

This garden was populated by terracotta gnomes.

Gnome fancying was, at this time, an upper class pursuit, but as production peaked in the 1930s, they became a symbol of the suburban middle classes.

Victorian terracotta gnomes like those so loved by Sir Charles could be worth £500.

Some twentieth century examples are sometimes worth as much, but more it’s the more unusual gnomes that fetch the highest prices.

Most are worth less than £50.

Sun dials make an interesting feature or a centre-piece in any garden – some are engraved on walls or set up on pedestals.

A lovely copper sundial on a distinctive column from the 19th century could cost £600 or more. After the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century, sun dials became less popular as a means of telling the time – industry needed minutes as well as hours.

As well as decorative gardening items, antique furniture is also popular.

Wrought or cast iron garden furniture, like benches, tables or gates, is today greatly in demand. Made from around 1800 onwards, the most prolific production was during the Victorian era.

Whilst earlier pieces are sometimes more expensive, what is most important is the decorative appeal of the piece and the size – a 19th century wrought iron bench could sell for as much as £1,200.