Gnomes, per lore, are more than garden decor. This guy’s ready to travel.

In fact, his atypical attributes — a blue cap and total lack of garden tools — make this pottery gnome all the more valuable.

With his sharp dress sense and smiling face, who wouldn’t invite a gnome like this one into their garden? The high selling price might be off-putting to most of us, though.

With his sharp dress sense and smiling face, who wouldn’t invite a gnome like this one into their garden? The high selling price might be off-putting to most of us, though.

This time of the year, many of us have gardens on our minds, whether plans involve planting, pruning or decorating. Garden gnomes are some of the most popular garden decorations, and have been since the 1800s. They were first made in Thuringia, Germany, a region known for its ceramics.

In German folklore, gnomes were said to guard against evil and sometimes help with garden tasks like digging and weeding when no one was looking. In fairy tales, gnomes often guarded treasure, so maybe there was a little wishful thinking along with the whimsy of keeping them in the garden.

Today, garden gnomes are made from materials such as concrete, resin or plastic. Antique and vintage gnomes made of iron or pottery are more valuable. Case in point: Bidders at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries brought this pottery gnome, whose presale estimated value was $200 to $300, to a final price of $2,875!

This one is a little atypical, which may have contributed to the price. While most gnomes have red caps, his is blue. Instead of the usual garden tools in his hands, he holds a bag over his shoulder. “Germany” is impressed on the back, indicating he was made for export. With his boutonniere, brimmed hat and a bag over his shoulder, he certainly looks ready for travel.

The mark also offers clues to when the gnome was made, assuming he was exported to the United States. After 1891, anything imported by the United States had to be marked with its country of origin. This mark usually included the words “Made In” after 1915. From the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, German products were marked for East or West Germany. So the gnome was probably made either in the early 20th century or toward the end.

Q: I am preparing my family house for sale after my mum’s passing, and she had a bedroom furniture set in her possession. My mother told me that it was originally her grandmother’s. I’ve been told that the style is art nouveau, and that it is circa 1900s. There are two wardrobes, one three-door and the other two-door, a dresser (with mirror), and a bed headboard and footer. I’m looking for information on the pieces and an approximate value.

A: To date furniture from family history, the general rule is to add 25 years for every generation that owned it, then add your age. However, people buy furniture at different times in their lives, so, while this method can determine the maximum possible age of a piece of furniture, it is not always a reliable way to date it. Style and construction will give you more accurate information. The art nouveau movement began in France in the late nineteenth century and influenced American design from about 1895 to 1910. Art nouveau style featured long, flowing lines, asymmetry, human figures, and natural elements like flowers and insects. It took inspiration from French and Japanese decorative arts. There were only a few American makers; S. Karpen and Brothers of Chicago is probably the most famous. Simpler versions of art nouveau styles were mass-produced. Art nouveau bedroom sets with unknown makers have recently sold at auctions for about $750 — $1,500. If you can find a label or maker’s mark, the value will be higher. A bedroom set usually gets the best price when it is sold as a unit instead of selling each piece individually.

Q: I recently found a teapot that is shaped like an old country cottage, and it is marked on the bottom as made in Occupied Japan. What does that mean, and could it be worth something?

A: “Occupied Japan” is the mark on ceramics, toys and other items made in Japan during the American occupation after World War II, about 1947 to 1952. There are collectors who specialize in Occupied Japan products. To them, the mark is the most important part; at antiques shows, Occupied Japan items are displayed upside down so the mark is immediately visible. Novelty ceramics like your teapot tend to sell for low prices. We have seen a similar teapot, along with a matching sugar bowl and creamer, sell recently for about $20. This style of teapot, shaped like a cottage, is sometimes called “cottage ware.” We have seen it attributed to the Marutomu ceramics company.

TIP: When moving furniture, always tie drawers and doors in place. Use soft cloth tape.

On the block

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Porcelain, midcentury, tea set, teapot, sugar and creamer, cone shape, blue, abstract scene, white trim, Alfa Ceramiche, Italy, 1950s, teapot 7 ½ inches, three pieces, $50.

Lamp, oil, hurricane, dome shade, Bristol glass, blue flowers, matching base, pierced foot, Victorian, circa 1890, 19 by 8 inches, $85.

Medical, eye chart, tumbling E, white lettering, black ground, paper, offset lithograph, 20th century, 28 by 22 inches, $190.

Paper, book, “Gilded Age: A Tale of To-Day,” Mark Twain, brown leather covered boards, gilt lettering, 1st edition, American Publishing Company, F.G. Gilman, 1873, 8 ¾ by 6 ¼ inches, $280.

Rug, Persian, three diamond medallions, on dark blue ground, red field, diagonal stripes, flower border, early 1900s, 6 by 4 feet, $305.

Game, wheel, carnival, painted, yellow ring, numbers, four baluster shape spokes, alternating red and green, stars, two-sided, 24 inches, $385.

Majolica, vase, urn shape, allover mythological scenes, multicolor, figural snake handles, mask terminals, pedestal base, square stand, Italy, 33 inches, $490.

Silver, French, coffeepot, Empire, hinged lid, bud finial, gooseneck spout, animal mask, ebonized handle, three legs, acanthus joins, paw feet, 1819-38, 11 inches, $755.

Furniture, stand, folio, Regency, rosewood, adjustable wings, lattice, serpentine sides, trestle base, wood casters, England, circa 1825, 42 by 25 by 30 inches, $770.

Royal Copenhagen, compote, Flora Danica, strawberry plant, sawtooth rim, pedestal, round foot, gilt trim, “Fragaria vesca,” marked, 5 ½ by 8 inches, $1,500.

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