1866: Mummified Gnome?

Sometime in 2008~2009, this picture of a small, mummified body started to appear across the internet.

HustomteA mummified gnome? [Picture source here]

Most sites claimed it was the naturally mummified body of a Swedish house gnome called a 'Hustomte.' Hustomte are small fairy-related creatures believed to make their homes with people as long as their houses are kept utterly clean and the family is very thrifty; they bring good luck to the households they occupy, so worked as an encouragement to families to keep things neat and clean to attract the little beings.

        This particular Hustomte was claimed to have been found, already mummified, in the wall of a barn in Sweden in 1866, with a note that reads "This litte housegnome was found by my father, Jan Peter Peterson, in the winter of 1866 inside the old barn wall. He was already lifeless, by Jacob Petersson." Which is interesting... but not exactly right.

        The gnome, you see, is the work of a Swedish props artist named Jacob Peterson, and he first posted pictures of it to his Deviant Art website in 2008, later also posting it in his Curiomira website in 2009 [Link Here]. The original note he created for the figure simply read "This litte housegnome was found by my father, Jan Peter Peterson, in the winter of 1866 inside the old barn wall. He was already lifeless" ... to which pinners in Pinterest then added 'by Jacob Peterson' to note who made the item. Ironically, people taking the pins in Pinterest for real mistakeningly included the "by Jacob Peterson" as if it was part of the note in the box, and not a literal reference to the artist that created the figure, when re-presenting the picture and tale in later websites.

        While some people mistook this item for a real gnome when seeing it out of its original context, the problem was encouraged by several sites that clearly knew the gnome was an art piece and chose to present it as real. Strange True News, for example, presents text copied from the artist's original website, but carefully trims out the part that mention the figure is fake... they may need a new name for that website!

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