Once upon a time, miniature ceramic collectibles like the figurines from the Hummel brand were just simple decorative pieces, often used to adorn mantelpieces or shelves in homes.
But over time, these little trinkets have become much more than just mere decorations. They have become valuable collectibles, treasured by enthusiasts for their beauty, craftsmanship, and historical significance.
Editor’s Note: Why are Ceramic Figurines Popular?
- One reason for their popularity is the wide range of subjects that ceramic figurines depict.
- From beloved characters in literature and film to historical figures, animals, and even fantasy creatures, there is a ceramic figurine out there for every interest. They also vary in size, which makes them easy to collect and display.
- The artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating a ceramic figurine also add to its appeal. Each piece is carefully sculpted, molded, and painted by hand, making each one unique and special. And with new pieces constantly being created, there is always something new and exciting to discover.
- Nostalgia can also play a significant role in the popularity of certain ceramic collectibles. Many people feel connected to the figurines of their childhood, and collecting them can be a way to relive fond memories.
- Additionally, for some people, collecting ceramic figurines is a way to celebrate their heritage or culture, as certain designs may be specific to certain regions or countries.
For many seasoned collectors, no group of specimens fits the bill better than the selection of rare Hummel figurines available on the open market today. This belief is reflected in the market prices for the most valuable Hummel figurines, some of which can reach prices north of $5000.
Hummel figurines are a brand of well-liked ceramic collectibles that became popular for several reasons.
One of the main reasons for their popularity is their unique design and style. The figurines, which were first created by German artist Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel in the early 20th century, are known for their charming, innocent, and sentimental style, depicting children and scenes of everyday life.
The superior craftsmanship and attention to detail in each Hummel figurine also add to their appeal.
Each piece is carefully sculpted, molded, and hand-painted, making each one unique and special. This level of craftsmanship is highly sought after by collectors, consequently making Hummel figurines prized assets and a great investment.
Hummel figurines also have a broad appeal, as they depict various subjects, from children to animals and everyday scenes. This variety makes it easy for people to find a Hummel figurine that speaks to them personally and adds to their collection.
However, arguably the most important factor behind the brand’s charm is its rich history.
The Hummel figurines were first created during a time of great hardship in Germany, and they provided a sense of hope and nostalgia for a simpler time. This nostalgia and connection to the past carries on today have contributed to their popularity.
The Hummel brand has also been around for many decades, and it has a reputation for quality and longevity that is unrivaled by most other brands in the space, this has helped to maintain their popularity over time.
The History of Hummel Figurines
The story of Hull figurines begins in the early 20th century with Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, a German artist.
Sister Maria was born in 1909 in the small village of Massing, Germany, and was known for her artistic talents from a young age. She entered the Franciscan Convent of Siessen in 1933, where she began studying art under Sister Seraphina’s tutelage.
Spurred on by the other sisters at the convent, Sister Maria began to sell some of her art, by this process, some of her work eventually landed in the hands of Franz Goebel.
In 1935, Sister Maria was discovered by Franz Goebel, the owner of a porcelain factory in the German town of Rodental. Goebel was impressed by her talents and invited her to create a line of porcelain figurines—eventually, this included other products such as plates and bells—for his factory.
Sister Maria accepted the offer and began working on the first Hummel figurines.
The first Hummel figurines were released in 1935, and they quickly became popular for their charming, innocent, and sentimental style. They depicted children and scenes of everyday life, and they were a reminder of a simpler time during a period of great hardship in Germany.
During World War II, the production of Hummel figurines was halted, and the factory was destroyed. However, after the war, the Hummel figurines enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, and production resumed at the Goebel factory.
In the following decades, the popularity of Hummel figurines continued to grow, and they became highly sought after by collectors. The Hummel brand established a reputation for quality and longevity, and it was exported worldwide.
Although Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel passed away due to tuberculosis and pneumonia at the young age of 37 in November 1946, her legacy in the form of her cherished figurines continued production.
In the late 20th century, the Goebel factory was sold to a private company, but the Hummel figurines continued to be produced under the same high standards.
Today, Hummel figurines are still highly popular and sought after by collectors, and new pieces are constantly being created to add to the collection.
However, for the most valuable pieces from the collection, you must look to the older, rarer entries in the lineup. With the increasing demand for them over the years, many of these specimens have appreciated considerably in value over time. This is especially true for limited edition releases or ultra-rare pieces.
Rare Hummel Figurines Value
Similar to what is ideal with most other collectible types, when it comes to assessing the worth of Hummel figurines, it’s important to take into account both historical market trends and current market conditions.
In recent years, the market for Hummel figurines has undergone some fluctuations, with prices for certain pieces experiencing dips or even declines. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that Hummel figurines are no longer valuable or desirable.
Editor’s Note: Explaining Hummel Figurines Price Dips
Collecting Hummel figurines can be a fun and nostalgic hobby, but it’s essential to keep in mind that the market for these collectibles has experienced downward fluctuations in recent years, particularly for lower-end pieces.
While this development may be good news for those collecting for personal enjoyment, as it allows for the acquisition of figurines at a lower cost, it can be a riskier investment for those looking to profit from their collection in the future.
It’s worth noting that the market for Hummel figurines has been impacted by several factors.
One of the main drivers of the decline in prices for lower-end figurines has been the aging population of collectors. As older collectors pass away or downsize their collections, thousands of Hummel figurines have been returned to the market.
Additionally, younger generations have shown less interest in these collectibles, further contributing to the decline in prices.
As a result, most used Hummel figurines now sell for no more than $70 in shops, and prices are likely to continue to fall as more figurines become available on the market.
On the other hand, the rarest and most sought-after Hummel figurines have trended in the opposite direction and have attracted even higher prices. These rare pieces are considered valuable due to their rarity and historical significance, and they are likely to continue to appreciate in value over time.
In fact, current market trends suggest that truly exceptional Hummel figurines can still fetch impressive prices at auction.
The increasing rarity of the most sought-after antique and vintage Hummel figurines, in particular, is likely to continue to support the market for these collectibles in the long term.
The Goebel company, which had been producing Hummel figurines since 1935, ceased production in 2008 when a subsidiary company took over operations. This automatically makes all Hummel figurines from the original manufacturers rarer and increases their sentimental value, as there would be no future release in that category.
Furthermore, with the antique and vintage Hummel figurines—especially the oldest entries from the bunch and those with extremely tiny total supplies—available in the market being already extremely limited, the end of the original Hummel figurine lineup makes them more valuable.
Another major factor that affects the value of a rare Hummel figurine is its condition.
With many of these rare pieces being several decades old, finding specimens on the open market that are in excellent condition, with minimal signs of wear and tear, is becoming increasingly harder.
Consequently, these pieces are likely to be more valuable than those that have been damaged or restored.
While seeking rare Hummel figurines on the open market, it is also critical that you check the authenticity of the piece. A fake unit is considerably less valuable than a verified original specimen.
Ideally, you should ensure that they are buying from a reputable dealer who can provide a certificate of authenticity.
Today, this selection of the rarest Hummel figurines can range in price from the low hundreds to a few thousand dollars apiece. Some of the most exclusive specimens from the bunch can even reach prices north of $3000.
Furthermore, Some select Hummel figurine combos also typically sell as parts of matching sets that attract even more demand from the most seasoned collectors.
Most Valuable Rare Hummel Figurines
Here is a selection of some of the most valuable Hummel figurines today, based on the finalized prices they brought in at auction.
Editor’s Note: The Estate Collection of Donald Deeks
There is certainly an abundance of high-profile Hummel figurine sales that have gone under the radar and are consequently harder to track or find information on online.
Some of these circulated stories include those on now mythicized pieces like the original “Little Gabriel” (Hum 2/0) and “Little Fiddler” (Hum 5/0,) both produced in the 1930s and currently rumored to be valued north of $20,000.
However, since these stories include a lot of speculation, we cannot include those purported sales, even though they may be as high or even higher than those in this article.
Most of the sold Hummel figurines featured on our list are from the estate collection of Donald Deeks (1931-2020) of Venice, Florida. The estate collection of Donald Deeks (1931-2020) is a collection of Hummel figurines that were amassed over many years by the late collector, Donald Deeks.
Deeks was a well-known collector of Hummel figurines and had a passion for collecting the rarest and most valuable pieces. He had an eye for detail and quality and was always searching for new additions to his collection.
The collection of Donald Deeks is said to be one of the most comprehensive and noteworthy assemblages of its kind, boasting an array of the rarest, most valuable Hummel figurines ever created, including the four highly sought-after “Mamas and Papas”, a plethora of 1940s International figures, various prototypes, one-of-a-kind pieces, and original artwork by Sister Hummel.
The collection is also said to include numerous pieces purchased by Deeks from the personal collection of his friend, the late Bob Miller, who was the author of several price guides on Hummel figurines and was considered the leading authority on the subject for decades.
The collection was passed down to Deeks’ family after his passing, who put it up for sale via Florida-based auction house Blackwell Auctions in January 2021.
Signs of Spring, Four Posts (Hum 203 TMK2)
- Finalized Auction Price: $5500
“Signs of Spring” is a famous Hummel figurine that was first introduced in 1990 as Hum #197, with further iterations coming in future batch releases of Hummel figurines.
This figure depicts a young girl carrying a basket of flowers, and it is known for its intricate details, use of vibrant colors, and spring theme. It is considered a highly desirable piece among Hummel collectors due to its unique theme and its depiction of spring and nature.
The regular Sign of Spring figurine is not considered as rare as other Hummel figurines and it’s still being produced by Goebel. Standard pieces released in this collection over the years typically retail in a modest price range of between $50 to $200, depending on the edition, condition, and provenance.
However, some unique pieces from the older editions that show distinctive variations, such as special glazes, artist proofs, or limited editions, are more valuable. This specimen is one such piece.
This “Signs of Spring” figurine features a young girl leaning on a fence with four posts, which presents an oddity that is extremely rare in the series. The standard version of the piece depicts a fence with only three posts.
Furthermore, its provenance from the estate collection of the late Donald Deeks helps to bolster its value further.
The figurine is inscribed by hand with the numbers 203 and TMK2 and is in excellent condition with no cracks, chips or repairs. The figurine, however, does not come with its original box.
Editor’s Note: TMK
When identifying the authenticity of a Hummel figurine, one of the first things to look for is the Goebel trademark, also known as a TMK.
This trademark, which can be found at the bottom of the figurine, is a stamp of the Goebel company logo, and it is present on all authentic Hummel figurines produced by Goebel. As the company has used different logos throughout its history, the presence of a particular TMK can also help in determining the age of a figurine. The first two trademarks include:
the Crown Mark (TMK-0, TMK-1 or CM) 1934-1950: The initial trademark used by Goebel on its M.I. Hummel figurines when they were first commercially available in 1935. This mark also known as the “Crown-WG” was the outline of a crown that was used on all of Goebel’s products during that time.
The Full Bee Mark (TMK-2) 1950-1959: In 1950, Goebel changed its trademark to include a bee in a V. This change was thought to be a tribute to Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel—who passed away in 1946, as her nickname was a bumblebee. The V stands for the first letter of the German word for distributing company, Verkaufsgesellschaft.
You can find full details of the other 5+ trademarks used by the company here.
Old Woman Knitting (Hum 189 TMK0)
- Finalized Auction Price: $4250
The “Old Woman Knitting” figurine is considered one of the rarest and most valuable Hummel figurines, as it was only produced as a sample in 1948 by artist Arthur Moeller and was not approved for mass production by the Siessen Convent.
It is easy to speculate on why the piece was rejected, seeing that the figurine is different from Sister Hummel’s work. Nevertheless, it is a replica of one of her earlier drawings.
The piece depicts an old woman sitting in a rocking chair knitting. This figurine is considered one of the famed 4 “Mamas and Papas” figurines.
The Old Woman Knitting figurine is marked with TMK0, which is the first trademark used by Goebel, also known as the Crown Mark, and was used on all of Goebel’s products from 1935 to 1949.
Sister’s Children (Hum 2288 TMK9)
- Finalized Auction Price: $3750
The Hummel “Sister’s Children” is a highly sought-after figurine in the Hummel collection. This series, which was first introduced in the 1990s, originally depicted two children sitting on a bench next to a birdhouse
However, this piece belongs to a much rarer, limited release from the series.
Hum #2288 was created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Sister Hummel. This figurine is marked with the number 229 of 300, making it a rare and valuable addition from a limited edition containing only 300 specimens.
The figurine diverges from the original design, depicting seven children instead of two. The children are featured in various poses and using different props, including a basket, violin, backpack, flowers, and a tiny minecart.
As is traditional with the Sister’s Children series, this piece uses a mix of intricate details and of soft colors that make this piece stand out among other Hummel figurines. Plus, the backstamp on the unit bears a “100th Anniversary” stamp, further adding to the uniqueness and collectibility of this piece.
Sister’s Children (Hum 2288 TMK9) is also marked with the TMK9 trademark, which was used by Goebel from 1990 to 2008. The TMK9 mark signifies that this piece was produced during the final years of Hummel figurine production by Goebel.
Old Man Reading Newspaper (Hum 181 TMK0)
- Finalized Auction Price: $3750
The “Old Man Reading Newspaper” (Hum #181) is a highly sought-after Hummel figurine, known for its intricate details and unique theme, with its depiction of an older man engrossed in his newspaper. The lifelike portrayal of an old man sitting in a rocking chair, reading a newspaper.
This piece was created as a sample in 1948 by the sculptor Arthur Moeller. However, despite its intricate details and true-to-life portrayal, the figurine was not approved for production by the Siessen convent due to its deviation from Sister Hummel’s typical style. Nevertheless, it is still considered an exact reproduction of one of her early sketches.
This figurine is marked with the M I Hummel signature, and the number 181 is hand-incised on the bottom. It was listed as a closed number on February 18th, 1948, and is one of the four extremely sought-after “Mamas and Papas” figurines.
This specimen sold for $3750 at auction.
Hummel International Series Figurines
The Hummel International Series figurines, also known as the International Children, are a series of Hummel figurines that were first introduced in 1948 by Goebel.
The series features children from different countries dressed in traditional clothing and showcasing cultural customs and traditions. These figurines were created to promote international understanding and friendship among different cultures and nationalities.
The International Children series includes more than two dozen figurines, each one featuring a child from a different country, such as the Dutch Girl, the Swiss Boy, the Norwegian Girl, the Spanish Boy, and many others.
Each figurine in the series is intricately detailed and beautifully painted and captures the essence of the country and culture it represents.
These figurines were highly sought-after by collectors and were considered highly valuable due to their unique theme and cultural representation.
However, as the series was in production for only a short period of time, they are now considered rare and hard to find. Furthermore, due to their massive cultural significance, these figurines are now considered a unique addition to any Hummel collection.
The Hummel International Series figurines are marked with TMK-1 which was used by Goebel 1934-1950 and the bee-in-V TMK-2 mark, which was used by Goebel from 1950 to 1955.
Some of the most valuable Hummel international figurines from the estate collection of Donald Deeks include:
1. Serbian Girl (Hum 812 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Serbian girl, dressed in traditional clothing and holding a basket of flowers. The specimen sold for $3750 at auction.
2. Swedish Girl with Letter (Hum 825 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Swedish girl dressed in traditional clothing and holding a letter. The specimen sold for $3500 at auction.
3. Bulgarian Girl Dancing (Hum 810 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Bulgarian girl dressed in traditional clothing and dancing. The figurine’s dynamic pose of the girl dancing adds to its charm. The specimen sold for $3250 at auction.
4. Hungarian Boy with Dog (Hum 853 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Hungarian boy dressed in traditional clothing and holding a small dog. The figurine is very brightly colored, and the additional element of the dog adds a touch of companionship to its overall appeal. The specimen sold for $3000 at auction.
5. Swedish Girl Carrying Basket (Hum 825 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Swedish girl dressed in traditional clothing and carrying a basket in her right hand. The specimen sold for $3000 at auction.
6. Bulgarian Girl with Chickens (Hum 809 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Bulgarian girl dressed in traditional clothing, feeding chickens. The additional element of the chickens adds a touch of realism. The girl has black hair instead of the normal light-colored hair that ships with the standard versions, making it a unique, extremely rare variation of the figurine. It also has Bulgarian writing on the bottom. The specimen sold for $2750 at auction.
7. Slovak Little Fiddler (Hum 834 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Slovak boy dressed in traditional clothing, and playing the violin, an excellent way to commemorate the rich cultural heritage of Slovakia. It is considered an extremely rare piece, with only one other known specimen located in the U.S. at the Rosemont Museum. However, it does not bear the signature of M.I. Hummel, and the trademark is obscured, with only the numbers 3 and 4 visible. The factory records indicate that the Slovak Little Fiddler was made, but it is still being determined who modeled it, whether it was Arthur Moeller or Reinhold Unger. This figurine is in a used condition, with some repairs to the feather, right ankle, and neckline. It also has some hairline up top and crazing to the base, with some paint loss to the face. Despite these imperfections, it is still a valuable and unique addition to any Hummel collection, as indicated by its finalized sold price. The specimen sold for $2200 at auction.
8. Serbian Boy Playing Gusle (Hum 813 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Serbian boy dressed in traditional clothing, playing the Gusle, a traditionally favored string musical instrument. The added doughnut-shaped base adds a unique touch to the design, and the incised number 813 on the bottom adds to its authenticity. This particular piece is considered to be in excellent condition, making it a valuable addition to any collection. The specimen sold for $2200 at auction.
9. Bulgarian Girl with Rooster (Hum 809 TMK1): This figure depicts a young Bulgarian girl dressed in traditional clothing, holding a rooster in her left arm. The unique piece, designed by A. Moeller in 1940, is known for its intricate details and vibrant colors. The figurine is in good condition, with some crazing present, and—according to notes by Donald Deeks—has been professionally repaired, but the location of the repair is unknown. It comes with the original box, which shows signs of age-appropriate wear. It also has Bulgarian writing on the bottom. The specimen sold for $2100 at auction.
10. Swedish Merry Wanderer (Hum 824 TMK1): The Swedish Merry Wanderer is a highly sought-after Hummel figurine known for its intricate details and charming depiction of a young Swedish boy dressed in traditional clothing. This figurine was sculpted by Arthur Moeller and is believed to have been produced during the Crown era, as it bears the M.I. Hummel signature but no trademark. This particular specimen of the Swedish Merry Wanderer is in good condition, with only a few tiny chips on the edge of the base and some crazing present, and it does not come with its original box. The specimen sold for $2000 at auction.
How Do You Check a Rare Hummel Figurine for Authenticity?
When determining the authenticity of a rare Hummel figurine, there are several key factors to consider.
- First, check for the Goebel trademark, also known as a TMK, at the bottom of the figurine. Each Goebel-produced figurine should be stamped with the company logo. The different logos used in different periods can help identify the age of the figurine.
- Next, examine the details and craftsmanship of the figurine. Authentic Hummel figurines are known for their intricate details and use of vibrant colors. Compare the figurine to known original examples to ensure that the details and craftsmanship match.
- Check for any repairs or damages. While some wear and tear is expected on older figurines, major repairs or damages can indicate that the figurine is not authentic.
- Research the history and rarity of the specific figurine. Some Hummel figurines, such as the “Old Woman Knitting” or the “Mamas and Papas” series, are known to be highly sought after and rare. Make sure the figurine matches the known characteristics of the specific figurine you are looking for.
- Finally, if all the previous steps do not satisfy your curiosity, consult with a professional appraiser or Hummel expert to verify the authenticity of the figurine. They will have the knowledge and expertise to accurately assess the figurine’s authenticity.