Dr. Lori reveals how to tell if your Hummel figurines are real and valuable.
by Dr. Lori Verderame
In 1876, Franz Goebel started a porcelain firm near the town of Oeslauby, Germany. After several years of porcelain production in the factory, Franz’s son William expanded the Goebel product line and changed the company name to W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik. Convinced that the American market would help with sales, William developed a U.S. product line and sent his 16-year-old son Max Louis to America. By 1911, Max Louis Goebel returned to Germany to move the factory into the 20th century.
In the 1930s, Franz Goebel thought that in a world of political turmoil, customers would respond to a product that depicted the gentle innocence of childhood. The artwork of a Franciscan nun and gifted artist trained at the Munich Academy would change the course of the company history.
Based on the artwork of Sister Hummel, Goebel produced a line of figurines. The artist was contacted at the Convent of Siessen and was shown clay models based on her drawings. Sister Hummel and the Convent of Siessen granted sole rights to the Goebel firm to create ceramic figures based on the nun’s original artwork. Sister Hummel personally approved the sculpting and painting of each porcelain piece. It was determined that earthenware, pioneered by Goebel in the 1920s, was the proper medium for the new collectibles product line.
Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel was born in Bavaria in 1909. In 1927, she enrolled in Munich’s famed Academy of Applied Arts and befriended two Franciscan Sisters from a teaching order that emphasized the arts. She decided to enter the Convent of Siessen upon graduation from art school in 1931, and by 1934, the young nun took the name Maria Innocentia replacing her birth name Bertha.
The members of the convent encouraged the Sister Maria to pursue her art. Soon, small German publishers began printing her artwork in the form of postcards. These charming cards came to the attention of Franz Goebel, the head of the Goebel porcelain company.
The artist worked personally with Goebel’s master sculptors and painters to create the figurines. First introduced in 1935, the Hummel figurines were an immediate success. The relationship between Hummel and Goebel continued amicably until Sister Hummel’s untimely death at 37 in 1946. Goebel carried on her artistic legacy with new Hummel pieces.
To determine if a figurine, plate, or bell is a genuine Hummel piece, there are definitive marks of identification that should be evident. The mark of Sister M. I. Hummel is incised on every authentic piece. Sister Hummel requested that her personal stamp of approval would appear on every piece and under the direction of the members of the convent, approvals were made with care. All Hummels have a mold number which is a number that is incised on the bottom of each M. I. Hummel figurine at the factory. Another definitive identifying mark is the Goebel stamp on the underside of each figurine which is an official Goebel trademark. While the trademark has changed over the years, every authentic M. I. Hummel figurine will have a Goebel stamp on its underside. When any change in the backstamp had occurred, it has been a source of great excitement for M. I. Hummel collectors.
Hummel figurines are highly sought after by collectors with several models valued at hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per piece. Pieces such as “For Father”, “Apple Tree Girl”, “Globe Trotter”, “Little Goat Herder”, and “Going to Grandmas” are good examples of valuable collectibles. As with all collectibles, condition and rarity will affect value, but don’t let anyone tell you that your Hummel figurine is not collectible or not valuable.
Goebel also produced other pieces such as the Friar Tuck Collectibles.
Request an online appraisal for your Hummel from Dr. Lori.