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How To Identify Hummel Figurines

How To Identify Hummel Figurines


How To Identify Hummel Figurines: Hummel figurines, known for their endearing charm and artistic craftsmanship, have captured the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts worldwide for decades. These porcelain figurines, featuring adorable children in various heartwarming scenes, are not only objects of beauty but also cherished collectibles. Yet, within the world of Hummel figurines lies a fascinating challenge: how to identify and authenticate these exquisite pieces.

As we embark on this journey to discover the art of identifying Hummel figurines, it becomes evident that these porcelain treasures are more than mere decorations; they are windows to a rich cultural heritage. To identify a Hummel figurine is to unravel its story, understand its history, and appreciate the artistry that makes each piece unique.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricate world of Hummel figurine identification. We’ll explore the key features and characteristics that define genuine Hummel pieces, decode the significance of maker’s marks and inscriptions, and learn about the materials and techniques used in their creation. Moreover, we’ll discuss common misconceptions and potential pitfalls in the process of identification.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector seeking to expand your knowledge or a novice admirer eager to embark on a journey into the world of Hummel figurines, this guide is your roadmap to understanding and appreciating these timeless porcelain treasures. Join us as we unravel the art of identifying Hummel figurines, one intricate detail at a time.

How To Identify Hummel Figurines

How do you identify Hummel figurines?

After a quick inspection of the Hummels in your care, you should find M.I. Hummel’s signature inscribed into their ceramic base, along with a stamp or inscription on the bottom of these pieces. Avid collectors use these maker’s marks to organize their collections and ensure they’re purchasing a real Hummel.

Identifying Hummel figurines involves several key steps to help you determine the figurine’s name, model number, and other important details:

Inspect the Base: Turn the figurine over and carefully examine the base. Most Hummel figurines have an impressed or incised mark on the underside that includes the Goebel trademark, a model number, and often the name of the figurine. The trademark has gone through various changes over the years, so familiarize yourself with the different trademarks used in different eras.

Model Number: The model number is a critical identifier. It helps you cross-reference the figurine with catalogs and online resources to find its official name and release date. Look for a number that is usually a combination of letters and numerals, such as “TMK-2” or “TMK-3.”

Measure and Observe: Take note of the figurine’s size, color, and any distinctive features. These details can help narrow down your search when identifying the figurine.

Reference Books: Hummel collectors’ books and price guides are invaluable resources. They provide comprehensive lists of figurines, their model numbers, and accompanying information. Libraries, bookstores, or online resources may have these reference materials.

Online Resources: Various websites and forums dedicated to Hummel figurines offer databases and galleries with images and information about different figurines. You can use these resources to cross-reference your figurine.

Consult Experts: If you are uncertain about the identification, consider seeking the expertise of experienced Hummel collectors or appraisers. They can help you confirm the figurine’s identity.

Do people collect Hummels?

Hummel figurines are a massively popular mid- to high-priced ceramic collectible that some people just can’t get enough of; they’re miniature cherubic, rosy-cheeked children in traditional German garb.

Yes, people still collect Hummel figurines today, and Hummel collecting remains a popular and passionate hobby. There are several reasons why Hummels continue to be collected:

Artistic Appeal: Hummel figurines are known for their charming and whimsical designs that often depict scenes of childhood and innocence. Many collectors are drawn to the artistic quality and attention to detail in these figurines.

Nostalgia: For some collectors, Hummels hold sentimental value as they may have been passed down through generations or received as cherished gifts. These figurines evoke nostalgia and memories of childhood.

Diverse Themes: Hummel offers a wide range of figurines covering various themes, including holidays, professions, hobbies, and everyday life. This diversity appeals to collectors with different interests.

Historical Significance: Hummel figurines have a rich history dating back to the 1930s when they were first created. This historical significance adds depth and intrigue to collecting.

Community: There are active online communities, forums, and social media groups dedicated to Hummel collectors. These platforms provide opportunities for enthusiasts to connect, share their collections, and exchange information.

Investment Potential: Some collectors view Hummels as potential investments, hoping that the value of certain figurines will appreciate over time.

Limited Editions: Hummel regularly releases limited-edition figurines, which generate excitement among collectors who want to acquire these exclusive pieces.

What is the Hummel symbol?

The company incorporated a bee in a V. It is thought that the bumblebee part of the mark was derived from a childhood nickname of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, meaning bumblebee. The bee flies within a V, which is the first letter of the German word for distributing company, Verkaufsgesellschaft.

The Hummel symbol, also known as the Goebel trademark, is a crucial identifier on Hummel figurines and other collectibles produced by the Goebel Porzellanfabrik company. Over the years, the Goebel trademark has gone through several variations, allowing collectors to determine the approximate age of a figurine and its authenticity. The most common Goebel trademarks include:

TMK-1: The earliest Goebel trademark, used from 1934 to 1950, features a full bee above the V with the word “Germany” stamped below it. Figurines from this period are highly sought after by collectors.

TMK-2: Used from 1950 to 1955, this trademark retains the full bee and “Germany” but adds the stylized “W. Goebel” signature underneath.

TMK-3: In use from 1957 to 1963, this trademark features a bee within a V and “Germany” below it, with the addition of the “W. Goebel” signature.

TMK-4: Used from 1964 to 1972, this trademark includes a bee within a V, “W. Germany,” and “W. Goebel.”

TMK-5: Introduced in 1972 and used until 1979, this trademark has a bee within a V, “W. Germany,” and “W. Goebel” with a dash underneath the bee.

TMK-6: In use from 1979 to 1991, this trademark is similar to TMK-5 but adds the copyright symbol “©” to indicate that the figurine design is copyrighted.

TMK-7: Used from 1991 to 1999, this trademark features a bee within a V, “Germany,” and “M.I. Hummel” rather than “W. Goebel.”

Why are Hummels no longer valuable?

Hummels were sold as an investment, while the very act of selling them in bulk undermined the scarcity that made them valuable in the first place. Like with Thomas Kinkade’s work, eventually buyers could readily find excess product, either from the manufacturer or a flooded secondary market.

Hummel figurines, once highly sought-after collectibles, have seen a decline in value for several reasons:

Changing Tastes: Modern tastes in home decor and collectibles have shifted away from traditional and sentimental styles, which Hummel figurines represent. Younger generations often prefer contemporary or minimalist designs.

Oversupply: The popularity of Hummel figurines in the mid-20th century led to mass production, resulting in a significant oversupply. An abundance of figurines in the market has diluted their scarcity value.

Declining Collector Base: Many longtime collectors who once drove demand for Hummel figurines have aged, and the younger generation has not shown the same level of interest. This reduced demand can lead to lower prices.

Secondary Market: The secondary market for Hummel figurines is saturated with listings, making it a buyer’s market. Sellers often face competition and price pressure.

Condition Issues: Many Hummel figurines have been passed down through generations, leading to wear and damage. The condition significantly affects value, and well-preserved pieces are rarer.

Limited Investment Potential: Unlike some other collectibles, Hummel figurines are not considered strong investment assets. While some rare or early pieces maintain or increase in value, most do not appreciate significantly over time.

How To Identify Hummel Figurines

What are the key features that define an authentic Hummel figurine?

Identifying an authentic Hummel figurine requires a keen eye for specific key features and characteristics that are intrinsic to genuine pieces. Here are the essential elements to look for:

Trademark Bee or V-Bee Mark: Genuine Hummel figurines bear a trademark bee or V-bee mark somewhere on the figurine. This mark signifies the official seal of authenticity. However, it’s essential to verify the accuracy and clarity of the mark.

M.I. Hummel Signature: Look for the signature of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, the talented artist whose drawings inspired these figurines. Her signature often appears on the base or alongside the bee mark.

Mold and Sculpting Details: Pay close attention to the intricate sculpting and fine details of the figurine. Genuine Hummel figurines are known for their meticulous craftsmanship, featuring realistic facial expressions, hand-painted features, and lifelike textures.

Colors and Glazes: Authentic Hummel figurines use specific color palettes and glazes. Be cautious of any color variations or unusual finishes, as these may indicate counterfeit pieces.

Size and Proportions: Hummel figurines are produced in various sizes, and their proportions are carefully maintained. Be wary of figurines that deviate significantly from standard dimensions.

Subject Matter and Themes: Familiarize yourself with the various Hummel figurine themes and subject matter, which often depict children engaged in everyday activities, religious scenes, or traditional German life. The authenticity of the theme should align with known Hummel motifs.

Base Stamps and Markings: Inspect the base of the figurine for any stamps, markings, or inscriptions that further authenticate its origin and date of production.

Packaging and Documentation: If available, original packaging and accompanying documentation, such as certificates of authenticity or box labels, can provide additional confirmation of authenticity.

Expert Appraisals: Consider seeking the opinion of experts or certified appraisers who specialize in Hummel figurines for a professional assessment of authenticity.

How can I decipher and interpret the maker’s marks on a Hummel figurine?

Deciphering and interpreting the maker’s marks on a Hummel figurine is a critical skill for collectors and enthusiasts. These marks provide valuable information about the figurine’s authenticity, production date, and origin. Here’s how to decode and understand these marks:

Look for the Bee or V-Bee Mark: The most iconic maker’s mark on a Hummel figurine is the stylized bee or V-bee mark. This mark signifies that the figurine is a genuine Hummel piece. It is typically located on the underside of the figurine or its base. Ensure that the bee mark is clear and well-defined, as counterfeit figurines may have poorly replicated marks.

Check for Other Markings: In addition to the bee mark, Hummel figurines may have other marks and inscriptions. These can include model numbers, copyright symbols, and artist signatures. Examine these markings carefully to identify the figurine’s model and any additional information about its production.

Reference Official Guides: Hummel figurine enthusiasts often consult official Hummel guides and reference books. These resources provide detailed information about the various marks and their meanings. You can cross-reference the marks on your figurine with those listed in these guides to decipher their significance.

Date Codes: Some Hummel figurines feature date codes, which are typically a combination of letters and numbers. These codes represent the year of production. Reference guides can help you decode these date markings accurately.

Seek Expert Opinion: If you’re uncertain about the maker’s marks or their interpretation, consider seeking the expertise of collectors, dealers, or certified appraisers who specialize in Hummel figurines. They can provide valuable insights and authentication.

Original Packaging: If you have access to the original packaging or documentation that came with the figurine, it may contain information about the marks and their meanings. Keep these materials as they can offer additional context.

What role do inscriptions play in identifying and dating Hummel figurines?

Inscriptions on Hummel figurines play a vital role in both identifying and dating these beloved collectibles. These inscriptions, often found on the base or underside of the figurines, provide valuable information that collectors and enthusiasts use to determine authenticity and age. Here’s how inscriptions contribute to the identification and dating of Hummel figurines:

Artist Signatures: Some Hummel figurines feature the signature of the artist responsible for the original artwork that inspired the figurine. The signature of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel is a prized inclusion, as it connects the figurine directly to her drawings.

Model Numbers: Inscriptions often include model numbers or designations. These numbers correspond to specific figurine models in the Hummel catalog. Collectors reference these numbers to identify the figurine’s name, theme, and design.

Copyright Dates: Many Hummel figurines include copyright dates. These dates indicate when the design was copyrighted, offering clues about the figurine’s production period. It’s important to note that the copyright date may not necessarily match the production year.

Date Codes: Some Hummel figurines feature date codes, typically composed of a combination of letters and numbers. These codes represent the year of production, helping collectors determine the figurine’s age more precisely.

Additional Inscriptions: Beyond the basics, some figurines may have additional inscriptions, including titles, phrases, or dedications related to the figurine’s theme. These inscriptions add character and context to the piece.

Are there specific materials and techniques unique to Hummel figurine production?

Yes, there are specific materials and techniques unique to Hummel figurine production that distinguish these beloved collectibles. Hummel figurines are known for their meticulous craftsmanship and adherence to traditional porcelain-making methods. Here are the key materials and techniques that make Hummel figurines distinctive:

Bisque Porcelain: Hummel figurines are primarily crafted from high-quality bisque porcelain. Bisque porcelain is unglazed, matte-finished ceramic that imparts a soft and velvety texture to the figurines. This material choice contributes to the figurines’ unique aesthetic appeal.

Hand-Painting: Each Hummel figurine is meticulously hand-painted by skilled artisans. This hand-painting process ensures the fine details, vibrant colors, and lifelike expressions that are characteristic of Hummel pieces. The delicate brushwork is a hallmark of their craftsmanship.

Artistic Sculpting: Hummel figurines are renowned for their intricate sculpting. The artists pay meticulous attention to capturing the smallest details in the figurine’s features, clothing, and props. The result is a lifelike and expressive portrayal of the subject matter.

Firing Process: The firing process for Hummel figurines involves multiple steps in a kiln. This process not only hardens the porcelain but also sets the vivid colors of the hand-painted details. It’s a crucial part of achieving the figurines’ durable yet delicate appearance.

Gloss Highlights: In contrast to the matte finish of bisque porcelain, some parts of a Hummel figurine, such as the eyes and other accents, may receive a glossy glaze. This technique adds depth and dimension to the figurine’s features.

Attention to Detail: Hummel artisans are known for their commitment to preserving the smallest details, ensuring that each figurine is true to the original artistic inspiration.

How To Identify Hummel Figurines


Identifying Hummel figurines is a journey of appreciation for these exquisite porcelain treasures. These charming collectibles have captured the hearts of enthusiasts and collectors worldwide, and the art of identification is essential for those who wish to understand their provenance and value fully. Through this exploration, we’ve discovered that several key elements contribute to the identification process. From deciphering the iconic bee or V-bee marks to interpreting inscriptions and recognizing unique materials and techniques, each facet plays a vital role in verifying the authenticity and age of Hummel figurines.

The world of Hummel figurines is not just about aesthetics; it’s a celebration of tradition, craftsmanship, and artistic expression. Each figurine tells a story, encapsulating the innocence and beauty of childhood and traditional German life. Understanding these stories, along with the finer details of identification, deepens one’s appreciation for these beloved collectibles.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector seeking to expand your knowledge or a novice admirer eager to learn more about these timeless treasures, the art of identifying Hummel figurines opens a window into a world of artistry and history. It connects us to the legacy of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel and the talented artisans who have brought her vision to life.

In this pursuit of knowledge and appreciation, identifying Hummel figurines becomes not only an enriching endeavor but also a means of preserving the legacy of these endearing porcelain creations for generations to come.


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