I.M. Hummel Figurines - Part II
In 1935, the fortunes of the Goebel Porcelain factory changed forever when they introduced their now famous line of child figurines based on the drawings of Sister (Berta) Maria Innocentia Hummel, a poor German nun who died tuberculosis in 1946 at the age of 37. Hummels are still being produced today. Besides figurines (by far the most popular Hummel form) there are a variety of miniatures, dolls, plaques, tiny military vehicles, calendars, plates, music boxes, ashtrays, bowls, pots, candleholders, lamp bases, bells, Ba-Bee-Rings, holy water fonts, and other wares from which a collector can choose. Most pre-1972 Hummel figurines have a "book" price value of $100 or more. Rare examples can fetch thousands. You don't have to be a microcerascientificantiquariancumlaude to appraise Hummels. All you need an up-to-date price guide and a little time and patience to learn how to use it. Here's two that you may find at your local library or bookstore: The No. 1 Price Guide to M.I Hummel, 7th Edition by Robert L. Miller, Hummel: An Illustrated Handbook and Price Guide by Ken Armke.
Suppose you are at a legitimate family tag sale, without a reference, and several old appearing Hummels appear at seemingly like fair prices. While spotting rare, limited-production examples might prove impossible, here's some tips that may help you ferret out the better buys.
- The figurines have been copied. Purchase only charming, hand-painted, exceptional quality examples with the M. I. Hummel signature and Goebel Backstamp evident on all legitimate pieces. Employ common sense and ask pertinent questions concerning age, provenance, etc.. Get a guarantee and receipt if possible.
- Generally, Hummels in non-perfect condition are not sought after by collectors. This is especially true in later examples.
- Large pieces normally command premium prices. Most of 2000+ different lines (i.e. "Boy with Toothache," "Chimney Sweep," etc.,) of Hummel figurines were produced in a succession of sizes ranging in some forms from a few inches tall (generally fetching $100+), to 10+" tall (often valued at $1,000+), to 30+" tall figurines that can fetch over $20,000.
- Generally, older Hummels are more valuable. Date of manufacture can often be discerned by inspecting the style of backstamp or trademark underneath. The Crown mark was introduced in 1935. The Full Bee was introduced in 1950. Older "Crown" and "Full Bee" marked Hummels usually fetch a higher percentage of their "book" price at auction. The Stylized Bee was first used in 1957. The Three Line marked was first employed in 1964. Large Goebel marks were introduced in 1972.
Every once in a while you come across a radiant, gentle person who never had a family and you say to yourself, "that's kind of a shame." Sister Maria did have children, and they are still delighting us today.