Grandparents have a way of giving gifts that you have no interest in receiving with such earnestness that you wake up one day with an entire tabletop full of random ceramic children staring back at you. 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. While they're not the most expensive ceramic figurines, the most valuable Hummels have sold for thousands of dollars, and yours might, too.
Most Valuable Hummels to Find in Your Collection
|Most Valuable Hummel Figurines||Estimated Value|
|Ring Around the Rosie||$1,000-$3,000|
|Apple Tree Boy & Apple Tree Girl||~$10,000|
Since the 1930s, Goebel-Hummel has made adorable figurines of little kids. In soft watercolor-esque glazes and decked out in German folk attire, thousands of Hummel figurines have been sold. This makes finding a rare, valuable Hummel an unlikely - but not impossible - task. Thankfully, ceramics are some of the most catalogued collectibles, so discovering if you've lucked out on a special piece is as easy as giving the figurine a good once-over.
Now, keep your fingers crossed that your Hummels match one of these most valuable Hummels ever made.
Seven little boys head off into the great unknown on an adventure in this scene from Hummel called 'Adventure Bound.' It's an innocuous scene for something that's considered the rarest Hummel figurine. Topping off auction prices in the $1,000-$3,000 range, this figure will bring in the highest amount if it's in pristine condition and has the original box. For example, one Adventure Bound from 1957 with the box was listed on Etsy for $3,500.
Pro tip - Look underneath your figurine to see if there's a "Full Bee" Hummel mark there. Adventure Bounds with that mark are even more difficult to find, so they're worth holding onto.
The Picture Perfect figurine's title hits the nail on the head for describing what the three little children and dog gathering around an old camera are doing. Number 2100 in Hummel's inventory, this figure will frequently sell for about $1,000-$2,000 in great condition at auction, though depending on the audience, it might sell for less than that. For instance, #796 of 2500 recently sold for only $450. What makes this figurine so special? Only 2,500 of them were ever made, making it a rare and valuable find, indeed.
Ring Around the Rosie
Get ready to grab hands with your friends, because this Hummel figurine will bring back all kinds of childhood memories. Ring Around the Rosie is #348 in Hummel's catalog and depicts four girls playing the historic schoolyard game. The original figurines were made just a bit bigger than was customary for the company's 25th anniversary, and these are the truly special figures at around 7 inches tall. Much like the previous two Hummels, Ring Around the Rosie is worth about $1,000 at auction, and in the best condition, closer to $3,000. Currently, one of these 7" figurines is listed in Hummel's official shop for $2,990.
Apple Tree Boy & Apple Tree Girl
Though they were made as separate pieces - #141 and #142, respectively - Apple Tree Girl and Apple Tree Boy are often sold as sets. One features a sweet-faced boy, and the other a girl. They're each perched in an apple tree's branches, seemingly without a care in the world. Though prices can vary depending on which edition you have and how well they've been maintained, the biggest versions can be worth a ton. For example, a giant 32" complete set is currently listed for $10,000 on Etsy.
Pro tip - Check the bottom of your tree-climbing boy or girl and look for the mark "142/X". That's the marking for these rare, extra-large Hummels.
An early Hummel design from 1935, the Merry Wanderer (#7) depicts a little boy with an umbrella and suitcase marching into the great unknown with a resolute determination that contrasts with his baby face in a delightful way. Though the Merry Wanderer has been remade several times over the years, it's the earliest 32- inch tall models that're worth the most. They may be worth thousands of dollars.
These days, you won't find many kids holding beverage steins and piles of turnips in their arms, but Hummel never did intend to make their figurines all that reflective of modern life. The #35 figurine, first released in the 1940s, features a little boy who looks like a mishmash of Peter Pan and a little German farmer. Generally, For Fathers are worth about $50-$100, but on rare occasions you can find an original piece selling in the mid-hundreds. Take this 1940s TMK 2 design with carrots instead of turnips, for example. It's currently listed for $577 on Etsy.
Pick the Hummels Out of the Bunch
From specific Hummel and Goebel maker's marks to the cherubic, Germanic folk style, there are a few things to keep on the lookout for.
- Know the company name. Hummel figurines can be a little confusing because they're not actually made by 'Hummel' but by a company called Goebel. So, finding Goebel on the bottom of your figurine doesn't mean it's fake.
- Look for the M.I. Hummel inscription. Located on the back of the figurine, the M.I. Hummel inscription is an important feature found on real Hummels. It's in an easy-to-read cursive, so you shouldn't have trouble finding it.
- Check the maker's mark. Over the 100+ years that Hummel figurines have been around, Goebel has used a ton of different maker's marks. These stamps or printed symbols on the bottom authenticate the piece as a real Hummel. You don't have to have these symbols memorized, but you should know generally what you're looking to find.
- Find a mold number. Also on the bottom of your figurine, you should see a mold number. These numbers correlate to the company's catalog, so the mold number should match the character that's listed in the catalog.
Best Places to Sell Your Hummel Figurines
With new Hummel figurines selling for hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of dollars, it's in your bank account's best interest to see if you've got a rare, retired Hummel in your house somewhere. But, it's all well and good to have a valuable Hummel if you can't find anyone to buy it. While you can sell them to brick-and-mortar antique stores, you run the risk of being low balled because selling through a retailer means they take a cut out of your profit so that they can make some when they sell it.
For an independent seller like you, finding online marketplaces to list your Hummels is best. Through these digital markets, you'll be able to wait for the right buyer to take your Hummel off your hands. Keep in mind, though, that demand is a driving force for collectibles, so a really valuable piece can go unsold for a long time if no one is ready to buy it. Etsy, eBay, and Facebook marketplace are all great options. For Facebook, your best choice might be a small but specific Hummel buy/sell Facebook group where you can connect with fellow Hummel lovers.
Keep Your Hummels in Pristine Condition
The most valuable Hummel figurines are the ones that've been kept in the best condition, and you can clean and store Hummels with a little bit of at-home know-how. Hummels are made from porcelain, so they're fragile, and you don't want to handle them too much. Clean them in a small bowl of warm, soapy water with a cloth on the bottom to protect the figurine.
Cleaning your Hummels is a simple process. First, remove dust and dirt using a microfiber cloth, and then wash away the extra layer of grime using a soft cloth and mild soap. Don't break out scrubby sponges or toothbrushes, because they'll be far too rough for the delicate porcelain to handle. Once you're done washing and rinsing, use a clean microfiber towel to dry them off. If there's any lingering dirt in the crevices, use a cotton swab to gently remove it.
The Value of Youth Never Fades
Although Hummel has made all kinds of different ceramic figurines, their idyllic children continue to be the most popular with fans. Youth's appeal never fades, and neither does its value if these figurines are anything to go by. While you can get about $100-$500 for most vintage Hummel figurines, a rare special few can be sold for top dollar. So, take the time to sift through your inherited of Hummels and see what treasures you can uncover.