Hummel Figurines: History, Values, & Where to Buy Them

Blog Written by Pamela Siegel
Written by: Pamela Siegel
January 29, 2023 Updated 01:10 PM
January 29, 2023 Updated 01:10 PM

by Pamela Siegel

Many collectors are drawn to the extreme cuteness of Hummel figurines. After all, what’s not to like about children with sweet expressions in adorable situations? Once they learn about the history of these fun collectibles, they love them even more.

A Brief History of Hummel Figurines

The earliest Hummels date to 1935, when they were first produced by the German porcelain manufacturer Goebel. Their inspiration goes back to 1931, when Berta Hummel became a nun after finishing art school. She took the name Sister Maria Innocentia and, at the urging of other nuns, expanded her interest in art by sketching pictures of delightful children.

Franz Goebel, after being made aware of those illustrations, brokered a deal with Hummel to transform them into figurines. Although the rise of the Third Reich in Germany ended Goebel’s production of Hummel figurines after a short period, more than 40 designs were put into production as a testament to their initial success.

The convent where Hummel lived was also shut down by the Nazis in 1940. Six years later, at the age of 37, she sadly died of consumption. Gobel began making Hummels again in 1946, however, and other artists continued her legacy dsigning hundreds of different figurines based on her initial drawings

By the 1970s, Hummels reached a peak in popularity. The Goebel Collector’s Club was founded in the United States in 1977 and went global in 1989 with a name change to the M.I. Hummel Club, which still exists. The brand was sold by Goebel in 2008, although figurines have still been made by Hummel Manufaktur GmbH in Kulmbach, Germany, since then under new ownership.


Goebel dealer sign with "Merry Wanderer" figure

Using Marks to Identify and Date Authentic Hummel Figurines

The appeal of Hummel figurines led other companies to produce items that looked similar. These won’t be marked in the same way as an authentic Hummel. Familiarity with the many marks used on true Hummels is imperative when identifying and dating them.

As an introduction, significant dates and periods related to Hummel marks include:

1935 through 1949 – From inception through 1949, only three marks were used by Goebel. Two of these consist of a crown with WG superimposed beneath it, and the other is M.I. Hummel © GW. Another English company, Beswick, made 12 different Hummels during World War II. Those are marked only with a style number and Made in England. After World War II, Geobel resumed production, and figurines were marked “US Zone,” another important age indicator in the eyes of collectors

1950s – Various marks were used depicting a V with a bumblebee tucked inside. They changed a bit from year to year. Some also had W. Goebel written in either block or script lettering.

1960s – A different version of the bee, called a stylized bee by collectors, was used throughout the decade in several different variations. W. Germany was also added to the mark in the 1960s. From 1964 to 1972, the wording was stacked in three lines next to the V.

1970s – A new version of the stylized bee mark, also called the Last Bee Mark, was introduced in 1972. Beginning in 1979, the Missing Bee Mark was first used. It featured the Goebel name more prominently and was used through the 1980s.

1990s – The reconsolidation of Germany prompted more changes to the mark in 1990. The old crown with GW was added, and the country was denoted simply as Germany.

2000 and newer – The older style of bumblebee was added back to the mark.

Collectors call groups of these specific marks Trademark 1 through Trademark 8, abbreviating them to TMK-1 to TMK-8. These designations are often used to indicate date ranges or to pinpoint values for Hummels that were produced over a long period of time. A good resource for learning about all the various Goebel marks with the dates they were used and corresponding trademark categories resides on The Prudent Collector website.


Hummel "Star Gazer" figurine

How to Value Hummel Figurines

Some Hummels can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Most, however, are valued at $50 or less. While price guides do exist, it is hard to keep them up to date as demand for this type of collectible fluctuates from year to year. One of the easiest ways to get a good picture of the Hummel market at any given time is by visiting eBay and doing an advanced search for sold items.

Like other types of collectible figurines, including those made by Lladro, each Hummel has a name assigned to it and is marked with a unique number on the bottom. The numbering system can be a bit confusing, so visiting Antique HQ to learn more about them before you begin valuing a collection is advisable.

As noted above, these figurines also have marks that vary depending on age. The numbers are the first key to locating a Hummel’s value, and the marks are secondary. There are also some general rules dictating values to keep in mind as you proceed.

Aspects impacting the value of Hummels include:

Age. Many of the most valuable single Hummel figurines date back to the 1930s. However, it is important to research Hummels one by one since the values can vary widely regardless of age. Also, keep in mind that some were made over a long period of time, so an example with an older mark might bring more than the same figurine with a newer stamp on the bottom.

Size. Larger figurines with more complicated designs often bring higher prices. These include examples featuring groups of children and nativity sets. Select single figurines were produced in varying sizes as well. Some of the larger versions can be worth more than the smaller ones.

Demand. This is one of the primary factors driving Hummel values. Decades ago, demand was high as more shoppers sought these collectibles, and values went up concurrently. As interest waned in the early 2000s, values steadily started to decline. Another factor that influenced demand during that timeframe was the growth of internet use among collectors. More collectibles available online filled demand, and prices subsequently dropped.  

Condition. As with all collectibles, only items in excellent condition bring top dollar. You might decide to add a rare Hummel with flaws to a collection until you can afford to replace it with a pristine example. That’s fine; just be sure to pay accordingly.


Hummel "Ring Around the Rosie" figurine

Examples of the Most Valuable Hummels

Looking at Hummels that were highly valued decades ago can be misleading since demand waxes and wanes. Many that were selling for tens of thousands in the past won’t bring that much anymore. Nevertheless, there are several that are consistently valuable.

Generally, multi-figure Hummels of all ages bring higher values than most single-character figurines. “Adventure Bound,” “Harvest Time,” and “Forever Friends” are group figurines consistently selling in the high hundreds and sometimes into the thousands. A Hummel Club figurine called “Picture Perfect” also falls into this category, as do many others.

In a related vein, Goebel made several styles of round wall plaques in the 1930s depicting the adorable children’s faces so well known to Hummel fans. These almost always sell in the thousands when they come on the market. Other wall-hanging versions of figurines made of porcelain can bring $1,000 or more as well, so be sure to keep your eye out for these Hummel-related wares.


Hummel limited edition "All Aboard" figurine

The Best Places to Buy Hummel Figurines

If your grandmother or great-uncle was among the multitude of people who couldn’t get enough of Hummel figurines a few decades ago, you might remember admiring one or more of their treasures as you were growing up. Letting them know that you’d like to have that little figurine as a keepsake would likely be a welcome request, so by all means, speak up and “shop” with family.

Maybe you’ve already inherited a small collection of Hummels and would like to add a few more to your cache. Buying through online auctions offers the best selection by far, and the estate sale auctions offered online by AuctionNinja are a great place to begin. Hummels, in fact, are entering the estate sale marketplace more and more often these days. Sites specializing in antiques and collectibles, like RubyLane.com, also have a good selection of Hummels for sale in all price ranges.

If attending estate sales in person is your preference, AuctionNinja also offers listings of sales taking place across the United States, along with Buying Guides you can use to locate the best places to shop for collectibles in a number of different cities. Visiting local flea markets and antique malls is often the best resource beyond estate sales for finding this type of collectible. 

Ready to add to your Hummel collection? Take a look at all the Porcelain and Fine China selections offered by sellers on AuctionNinja.com.

Ready to locate an estate sale company or explore online estate auctions? Visit AuctionNinja.com. If you're new to online estate auctions, try it risk-free by sigining up here.

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