Everything You Need to Know About Hummel Figurines

Hummel Dealer's advertising plaque. Sold for $2,100 via Blackwell Auctions LLC (January 2021).

Both cute and coveted by collectors, Hummel figurines were one of the hottest collectibles of the 20th century. Their appeal continues today, as the scarcity of some styles has driven prices to record heights.

While modestly priced Hummels dominate the market, exceptional examples of these rosy-cheeked children can sell between several hundred to several thousand dollars. Some, such as the “Adventure Bound” figure group, have reached prices over $4,000. At a January 2021 auction at Blackwell Auctions LLC, the sale of a rare Hummel Signs of Spring figure (below) even yielded $5,500.

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The History of Hummel Figurines

Stoking such prices is the fascinating history of Hummel figurines, which begins with Bavarian nun Berta Hummel in the early 20th century. Hummel assumed the name of Sister Maria Innocentia in 1931 when she joined a Franciscan convent in southern Germany. Having just completed art school, Hummel dabbled in painting during her early days, depicting the jolly likenesses of rosy-cheeked children in her works. Her fellow sisters encouraged her and even suggested that she sell her work.

It was through such sales that Hummels eventually arrived on the desk of Franz Goebel, the director of a German pottery company. Inspired by Hummel’s endearing designs, Goebel negotiated a collaboration with the Bavarian nun to transform her paintings into ceramic pieces.

Goebel Hummel figurines debuted to the public at the 1935 Trade Fair in Leipzig, Germany, and their success was immediate. Within months, Goebel’s company had begun work on more than 40 additional designs. This rapid ascent, however, was cut short in subsequent years with the rise of Nazi control of Europe. Nazi forces soon limited and ultimately ceased Hummel production. They also shuttered the convent that Hummel called home in 1940.

Berta Hummel died in 1946 following the end of World War II, succumbing to tuberculosis at the young age of 37. The legacy she had begun, however, would live on. Goebel restarted production of Hummel figurines that same year, and soon thereafter, the delightful collectibles were back in demand. They became particularly popular among American troops stationed in Europe, whose export of Hummels back to the United States as souvenirs for family members fueled early American interest. Goebel worked with immensely talented artists over the years to ensure that the quality and artistry of each Hummel figurine was exceptional and of the same standards as Hummel herself would have expected.

Hummel Limited Edition Anniversary figurine

Limited Edition Sister’s Children Hummel figurine, created to celebrate Hummel’s 100th Anniversary. Sold for $3,750 via Blackwell Auctions LLC (January 2021).

Hummels: Value

So how much are Hummels worth? In recent decades, the market for Hummels has experienced fluctuations and dips in price, but current market trends suggest that truly outstanding Hummels for sale can still achieve impressive prices at auction. Hummel production by the Goebel company ceased in 2008 when a subsidiary company assumed operation, so it seems the ever-increasing rarity of antique and vintage Hummels over time will support the longevity of the market.

For a better sense of Hummels’ value, explore the Hummel figurines price list below for some of the quintessential examples in the market today.

“Adventure Bound” Hummel and Multiple Figure Groups

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Consistently popular among collectors are Hummels that feature multiple figures, perhaps because such designs are more complex and thus require additional skill to render each narrative effectively. The “Adventure Bound” Hummel is one of the most in-demand multiple figure groups.

Designed by artist Theo Menzenbach around 1955, the “Adventure Bound” Hummel, mold number #347 in Hummel archives, debuted in American markets in the early 1970s. Since this design was produced over the course of several decades, the value of these figurines depends on their date of execution, which is indicated by the style of the trademark bee found on the bottom of the figurine. “Adventure Bound” figurines that feature the “full bee” trademark (shorthanded as “TMK-2”), for instance, were created before 1959. Hummel expert Heidi Ann von Recklinghausen suggests that these rare Hummel figurines, a few of which are documented in current collections, can range in value from $6,000 to $9,000.

Hummel “Apple Tree Boy” and “Apple Tree Girl”

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Among the highest-priced Hummels are the early designs of the “Apple Tree Boy” and “Apple Tree Girl.” Occasionally sold as a matched set, these compositions feature a boy and girl respectively nestled in an apple tree. They are also recorded as Hummel mold number #142 and #141. Prices for these figurines can vary depending on condition, edition (dating), as well as scale — as both versions were created in three sizes.

Accordingly, the two smaller scale versions, measuring 3.5 and 6 inches respectively, typically sell for several hundred dollars. The colossal versions, marked “142/X,” can be valued, according to Hummel expert Carl F. Lucky, at $26,500 or more.

International Figurines

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Another favorite in the field of Hummel collecting is the International series of figurines that debuted in the 1940s. These styles, scattered among the #800 and #900 molds, feature the iconic Hummel figure dressed in the traditional garb of various nationalities, including Serbia, Hungary, and the former Czechoslovakia. Though more generic in their nomenclature than other Hummels with catchy or cute titles, these International figures nevertheless can rank among the most expensive in the market.

Hummel Plates

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Though later produced and generally less sought-after than rare Hummel figurines, Hummel plates first emerged in 1971 and were produced by Goebel in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Hummel’s founding. The first Hummel plate was titled, “Heavenly Angel,” and was crafted in hand-painted porcelain. The value of Hummel plates can vary in the market, depending on the state of their condition and whether or not they’ve retained their original box. Hummel plates’ value can range anywhere from $10 to $200.

Hummel Markings

With hundreds of variations of Hummel figurines created since the 1930s, there is an array of exceptional examples in the market, but there are several key characteristics that unite them. These are the three hallmarks to look for:  

  1. The inscription “M.I. Hummel”
  2. A mold number ranging from 100 to 2,000
  3. A trademark in the form of a bee, crown, or the Goebel name
Hummel markings

Detail of the inscription “M.I. Hummel” on the base of a Hummel figurine.

First, as a test of authenticity, these Hummels bear the inscription “M.I. Hummel,” as an homage to Sister Maria Innocentia. Second, they will bear the mold number, which can fall anywhere between #100 and #2000. Third, these figurines should bear a trademark in the form of a bee, a crown, or the Goebel company name. These trademarks are essential in determining the age of the figurine, and determining the age is crucial to assessing its value.

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