The Difference Between Hummel and Goebel Collectibles

A Statue based on a Hummel and Goebel figurine
Wikimedia Commons

M.I. Hummel collectible figurines came about when a porcelain shop owner discovered the postcard images created by a Bavarian nun in 1934. Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel's religious drawings and paintings, mostly of children, were transformed into porcelain figurines by Franz Goebel. The figurines were well-liked in Bavaria and across Germany and grew in popularity when American soldiers brought them home after World War II. 

Berta Hummel's Early Life

Berta Hummel was born in Bavaria and went to the Academy of Applied Arts in Munich. After graduation in 1931 she entered the Convent of Sieseen, an order that emphasized the arts, and soon was producing religious art cards for several German publishers. When Franz Goebel saw her published artwork, he realized these drawings could translate into the new figurines he wanted to produce. Berta took the name Maria Innocentia Hummel in 1934.

Beginnings of Hummel Figurines

The agreement with Goebel was that Sister Hummel would have the final approval of every piece and it would be incised with her signature. To this day, each M.I. Hummel piece must have the approval of the Convent of Siessen. The first figurines were introduced in 1935 and were immediately successful. "Puppy Love" was the first piece, known also as Hum 1.

Hummel Figurines and World War II

Hummel figurines were only allowed to be made for export during the war because Adolf Hitler did not like the designs. He believed Hummel drawings and figurines portrayed German children in an unflattering way. But Goebel still continued with a few new models.

The effects of the war reached the convent as fuel shortages meant Sister Hummel and some of her fellow nuns had to live and work without heat and the means to support themselves. She contracted tuberculosis and died in 1946, at age 37. 

After the war American soldiers discovered Hummels and sent the figurines home. They also started gaining popularity with the German people who wanted to start decorating their homes again.

Goebel Collectors Club

In 1977 the Goebel Collectors' Club was born, with over 100,000 collectors joining the first year. The name and scope of the club were changed in 1989 to the M.I. Hummel Club and would focus on Sister Hummel's artwork. The club is now international and today has more than 100,000 members.

Like most popular items that are collected, there are Hummel look-a-likes. Check for the marks on the bottom, the sure sign of an authentic Hummel figurine. In 2008, the Goebel company discontinued production of new Hummel figurines. 

The Legacy of Hummel Collectibles

There are not many companies or collectibles that are instantly recognizable to everyone, even non-collectors. There has never been a doubt what a Hummel is and even though hundreds of different pieces of numerous size variations have been made over the years, the popularity of these charming Bavarian children has not diminished. Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel may have died at a young age, but her art has lived on, delighting hundreds of thousands of collectors today.