Home page About Us Picture Gallery FAQ Other Stuff Resources/Links What's New Fun Stuff Contact Info Email Me

Give thanks for what you have

The Making of Hummel Pieces.

All the items in the collection are of a type of ceramic made from a mixture of feldspar, kaolin and quartz resulting in a high quality earthenware. They are each fashioned in molds taken from original hand sculpted master models. These master models are figures based upon the original designs of the late Sister M.I. Hummel. The designs are released to the company by the Siessen Convent and the resulting three dimensional renderings must be approved by the convent before they are put into production and released for sale to collectors. Each is cast (sometimes in several pieces which must be painstakingly assembled by hand), hand finished, fired and then released for sale. It is long, careful process entirely by hand and one which results in the finest quality product.

Identifying Genuine Hummel Figurines

A positive way of ascertaining the authenticity of a Hummel figurine is to employ a short checklist used by advanced collectors and dealers which will quickly tell you if its the real McCoy or a copy-cat:

  • Look for the M.I. Hummel signature
  • Check incised model number against the master list
  • Determine the trademark classification
  • Examine each piece for damage
  • Check for overall quality

    For the avid Hummel collector the above checklist will suffice. For those not as experienced then keep reading for a more detailed explanation. The wisest and happiest collector is often the most knowledgeable about all aspects of his or her collecting field.

    Step-1 --- Look for the famous M.I. Hummel Signature

    The most important mark of all of them is the M.I. Hummel signature incised, usually, on the rear upper surface of the base or on the rear edge of the figurine. Look for it before buying any figurine that is offered as a genuine Hummel. It should be clearly visible.
    There are very few exceptions to this statement. Some very small pieces, such as Girl with Sheet Music, Hum 389, are so small that a label for the signature has to be used. There are also a very few where the signature does not appear on larger pieces and so unless you are an advanced collector, pass up any of these. Now some will say that they have the real McCoy because it has a Full Bee(TMK-2) mark on it. This is a company trademark that identifies Goebel as the manufacturer. Almost without exception the piece will be a Goebel product by another artist, not by Sister Hummel. When it comes time to dispose of an unsigned M.I. Hummel figurine, collectors have found that such relatively rare omissions are difficult to sell and bring less than the expected price.

    Step-2 --- Check the Incised Model Number

    With the figurine facing to the front, turn the base up towards you. At the top of the base there should be an incised(indented) number which, for the series of M.I. Hummel figurines. (I sure hope you have a handy reference available or at least a picture) Because the figurine being examined should match the picture shown for that model number. In addition to the name and picture, the production record next to the picture will show what size that model number and size indicator should be. The height may not match exactly, as many older models varied from the current specified height.
    Now some collectors following this procedure will be disappointed because their figurine, even though incised with the M.I. Hummel Signature, does not have an incised model number. Even though you can exchange it at the Goebel Company, it might be advantageous for you to keep it if the figurine has one of the old trademarks, because an unnumbered old figurine is more valuable, even without the number, than a new one. Some old ones may be vary rare indeed.

    Step-3 --- Determine the Trademark Classification

    Trademarks (TMK) have been divided into six broad groups for convenience in determining the approximate age, the date the figure was made, and the relative value. Each group has many minor variations. What a lot of people doesn't know is that the timespan in which each mark was used overlaps the timespan of the next earlier and later marks. There are no exact cutoff dates. Exceptions seem to be the rule. Secondly, the time period that each trademark was used has been verified as being much longer than previously thought. The best example of this is the TMK-3, Stylized Bee. Examples have been documented that prove this mark was used as early as 1956 and as late as 1972. It overlaps the TMK-2 by two years and the TMK-4 by eight years. I will make a link to the various trademarks here at a later date. As soon as I can scan 'em and put 'em up.
    If you're wondering as to the reason of the overlap.....here's an example... automobile companies shut down their assembly lines for months before a yearly model change, and when modifications are complete new models start coming off the line on a certain date each fall. All changes are made at once. Figurines are made in batches of various sizes and frequencies, depending on their popularity. A trademark change may be introduced provisionally to test a new design, method, or to get trade reaction. If successful, more batches are then made with the new identification. Finally, in months, maybe years, all batches of all models will have the same trademark. Some models may not be scheduled for production for many months or even years after a change is authorized. Sometimes small quantities of an old batch are discovered. Once in a while portions of a batch may be sidetracked and be released later with current ones carrying a newer trademark.

    Step-4 --- Carefully Examine Any Article for Damage

    This step is becoming increasingly important and yet more difficult to execute in fact. Be especially alert for repair materials that do not show up under black light, and also the fact that damaged pieces that have been professionally repaired.

    In detecting restored pieces...even the most expertly restored Hummel figures or articles are detectable, but is sometimes difficult or impossible for the average collector. The two most reliable methods are examination by long-wave ultraviolet light and examination by X-ray. Until very recently one could rely almost 100% on ultraviolet light examination, but recently some restorative techniques have been developed that are undetectable except by X-ray examination.

    When using Examination by Long-Wave Ultraviolet Light an undamaged piece will appear uniformly light purple in color, the value of the purple varying with color on the piece. A crack or fracture with glue in it will appear a lighter color (usually orange or pink), patches will appear almost white, and most new paint will appear a much, much darker purple.

    When using Examination by X-Ray, I hope you have a good friend as a doctor or dentist and that you can convince to help you. When you look at the x-ray note the uniformity of the mold, with no breaks or lines apparent. Similar to looking at a x-ray of a bone with a hair-line fracture.

    Now for proper pricing of the restored pieces.... For imperfections or repairs, a discount from the Current Price List figures from 25 to 75 percent is in order. This is the price range reflected in actual sales. Broadly interpreted, allow a spread of 20 - 30 percent discount for minor nicks or touch-up not readily noticeable, advancing to about 50% for major portions broken, reglued, or professionally replaced. Finally, allow from 70-90% discount from the Price List for "basket cases". Of course auctions is a totally different animal.

    Step-5 --- Check for Overall Quality Everyone has different standards of excellence. But there is one isolated indication of substandard quality that is rarely found. It is customary in the ceramic trade to grind a diagonal line through the company trademark to identify substandard quality that is either to be sold at discount or broken up. The Goebel Company does not sell seconds. However, occasionally a Hummel piece is encountered in the secondary market with such a slash line that can be readily seen or felt by passing a fingernail across the trademark. These should be rejected by most dedicated collectors when found. They will always leave a nagging question in the owner's mind and are difficult to dispose of later.

    Hope you enjoyed my little site and by all means....DO have a Nice Day!!!

    Back to top of page

    Last Updated: 1JAN02