The female gnome was unheard of before the 1960's. Up until that time gnomes had always been portrayed as little old men with long white beards, smoking pipes or as manual workers wielding spades, tools and wheel barrows. The female gnome entered the arena slowly. One of the first female gnomes to appear was made in Germany about 1962 by the Heissner company. Made in ceramic, she was a cute 26cm tall girl holding a basket and wearing a blue dress over a white blouse. Her face was topped by, of course, the floppy traditional gnome's hat.
Rein Poortvliet introduced his version of the female gnome in his Gnomes book. He portrayed them and cheerful friendly figures who looked after children. They wore traditional clothes with full length skirts which were gathered at the waist and wore the conical red hat.
The 1990's saw female 'naughty' gnomes being introduced. They were shown wearing suspender belts, fishnet stockings and little else. they came in all sizes and colours and were popular. Some called them rude, which cause uproar in the gnome fraternity and many gnome enthusiasts thought it was an insult to the much loved, innocent gnome.
In 2004, Philipp Griebel of Graafenroda, Germany the company reputed to have originated the garden gnome, produced delightful female gnomes in traditional German dress and given the name 'Lady Roda'. But even she ran foul of the 'Association for the Protection of Gnomes' rights at a gnome conference in Germany when it was argued that gnomes had always been male only.
Despite these objections, Griebel's female gnomes continue to sell well. The naughty gnome ladies will probably never end up in a garden but if you look carefully you'll find them in an office, bar, or next to a book on a bookshelf!
The Gnome Lady
Gnomeland an Introduction to the little people, Margaret Egleton 2007