The History of Hummels

Happiness (Hummel Figurine)

Hummel figurines are based on the drawings of a German-born nun, Sister Maria Innocentia, who’s given name was Berta Hummel (1909-1946). Her drawings inspired porcelain maker Franz Goebel and in turn, the pair signed an agreement in 1934 that allowed Goebel to transform Hummel’s drawings into figurines. The first figurines were introduced in 1935 and were met with immediate success. The income from the Hummel products became her Convent’s (The Franciscan Convent of Siessen) only means of support during the Second World War.

The Volunteers (Hummel Figurine)

Adolf Hitler held a strong hatred for Sister Hummel’s work. One of Hitler’s Nazi party magazines reviewed one of her pieces, “The Volunteers”, proclaiming “there is no place in the ranks of German artists for the likes of her. No, the ‘beloved Fatherland’ cannot remain calm when Germany’s youth are portrayed as brainless sissies.” (

Eventually, the sale of both Hummel’s drawings and porcelain pieces was forbidden in Germany. They were sold only in international markets and the Nazi party claimed a large portion of the income.

Tragically, Sister Hummel died of tuberculosis in 1946 at only 37 years of age, but her artistic legacy has been continued by Goebel. The Convent of Siessen still approves every Hummel collectible before production and to this day, royalties from the sales of the figurines help support the work of the Convent.

Each Hummel is hand painted by a skilled artisan who has completed a minimum three year apprenticeship.  Each figurine can take two to three months to complete and may have as many as 700 hand operations. In addition to the Hummel signature and Goebel trademark stamp, you will always find a hole in your Hummel (usually in the armpit area) where the air was allowed to escape during firing.

The figurines became particularly popular after the Second World War as returning American soldiers brought them home as gifts. In the 1970’s, the prices skyrocketed as collectors starting seeing them as investments. New Hummels now sell between $150-$400, with some reaching as high as $1800. Secondhand price points are between $50-$150 (at Con$ign-iT!) . The Hummel figurines remain one of the world’s most recognizable and popular collectibles.


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