The famous Hummel figures began life in the sketch book of Berta Hummel, born in Bavaria, Germany in 1909, who would later become Sister Maria Innocenti after joining the Franciscan convent of Siessen in 1931. Hummel’s drawings, largely of children, were published on ‘art’ postcards and this is where they were first seen by Franz Goebel, owner of the Goebel porcelain factory, W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik. He knew that they would make great novelty figures and after making contact with Hummel, gained the rights to her illustrations.
In 1935 Goebel produced the first Hummel figures; Puppy Love, Little Fiddler and Bookworm. They were a huge triumph. Goebel expertly marketed his novelty range and cornered the home market as well as the US market where their success was immense; they were a ‘million seller’. During the Second World War Hummel figures were bought by American soldiers stationed in Germany and sent home to their sweethearts. The nostalgia of their journey through soldiers’ hands has always given them added appeal to collectors.
Hummel figures are still being produced today so dating a piece using the backstamp is very important. The inclusion of a crown indicates an early figure between 1935 and 1949 as after 1950 a motif with a bee and a V shape was introduced with the bee getting smaller and moving inside the V shape between 1950 and 1970. The addition of the name ‘Goebel’ began in 1964. All figures are marked with Hummel’s signature; M. I. Hummel, except those without bases or where there is insufficient room.
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
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