As with any item of great popularity, there will be those who wish to make a profit on a look-alike or knock-off or reproduction or a fake item to pass off as the real thing. For example, in the wrist-watch world, you will find one of the most reproduced watches is the Rolex while in the porcelain figurine world, you will find many look-alike figurine versions of the Hummels. I recently ran across some good examples of some poor copies using the name credited with M.I. (Maria Innocentia) Hummel and Goebel’s combined artwork and thought I would share these with you.
This page was updated on 3 May 2022.
Some of these that you may run across are discernible as copies only after you learn what to look for while others may not be quite as obvious. As an example, here is a photograph of a sticker located beneath one such figurine showing that it is an original reproduction of a Hummel and it was during World War II when Goebel was shut down and relied on Dubler in New York and Beswick in England to carry on the licensed product.
A relatively new product marketed for a lesser price is now on the shelf bearing the Hummel name as Berta Hummel. These bisque porcelain figurines are made in some of the Far East countries including China and Taiwan. Berta Hummel was sister M.I. (Maria Innocentia) Hummel’s given name before she became a nun and are using the sketches she made prior to that time.
As a novice collector, I am always looking to find what constitutes the real thing versus what may be a copy so as to educate myself on what to spend my money on and be able to take home with the knowledge I found a real original. I hope this article will help you in this regard.
Some of the features to recognize as the real item are as follows:
Does it have the incised name M.I. Hummel on the base toward the back or the bottom? Almost all of the figurines are required to have the impression of the name M.I. Hummel imprinted somewhere on the item. There are a few exceptions to this usually found on the very small examples where there is no room. The Goebel company is the primary producer of these fine porcelain figurines.
You may also find there are a number of other companies that were granted a limited license for their Hummel related products. Some of these include:
- ARS AG,
- Beswick (England)
- The Bradford Editions,
- Danbury Mint,
- Herbert Dubler, Inc.,
- Schmid and
- Willabee & Ward to mention a few.
Don’t forget that just because it is from Goebel, it isn’t necessarily a Hummel. Goebel makes a lot of other products that are dissociated with the M.I. Hummel name.
The stamped or incised trademark may be the best clue as to the authenticity of the item. The TMK is typically found on the bottom of the figurine and is under the glaze so as to be a permanent part of the item. The TMK has been modified a number of times since 1935 and some good examples of these can be found on a supporting page at this link.
Is the quality obvious? There are a lot of Japanese and Chinese reproductions and many of these do not have the shiny porcelain appearance but are rather chalky looking with a dull finish. Here is an example of an older Hummel, The Good Shepherd HUM 35, in blue, and a copy of the same idea in orange. The details are not as finely pronounced and are clearly of lesser quality. The fake proudly announced with a sticker on the bottom that it was an “Original Hummel Reproduction, Hand Painted”.
HUM 226 – The Mail Is Here
Height – 5½”
Double Crown TMK-1
The German Postillion, occasionally called the “Schwager” (brother-in-law), was the coachman in the uniform you see here in the yellow horse-drawn carriage. He carried, not only the letters and mail, but also people and provided all his customers with the latest news by announcing his arrival with the post horn. His horn provided him with priority on the roads when approaching an intersection so that it would be cleared for him making sure he was always on time. The monthly newsletter published by the Hummel-Manufaktur was christened with the name of the “Hummel-Postillion” bringing you the latest news from the company.
This interesting and rather different M.I. Hummel figurine was first molded in 1952 by master sculptor Arthur Möeller. Originally called the “Mail Coach” in earlier catalogs, it usually has the incised 1952 copyright date on the bottom and some examples have been found with the signature with a very light “M.I. Hummel” painted due to the faint impression. The first models in all catalogs and price guides show it beginning with the Full Bee TMK-2 trademark. An earlier example of the sketch by Sister Hummel may be found with the HUM 140 – The Mail Is Here plaque that was introduced with the Crown TMK-1 trademark.
The FAKE: The first thing that comes to your attention with the example here, if you are familiar with this figurine, is the fact that the horses are white instead of the shades of grey in color. They are also quite a bit larger and stockier than the horses typically seen. Notice also how different the color of the jackets, the luggage on the top of the carriage, the wheels and the base details. This figurine supposedly predates the introduction of the mold and has the incised as well as the stamped, in black, Crown TMK-1 trademarks as well as the incised M I Hummel signature on the base. The signature is wrongfully located on the side of the base beneath the rear of the coach instead of being on the right side on the base facing up where you would expect to find it in this instance. This is obviously a figurine that does not appear to be the “real thing”.
Compare it to the TMK-5 common example version above. The figurine was located on eBay on 7 April 2022 with a Buy It Now price of $500.00 plus a shipping charge of $11.75 from East Sandwich, Massachusetts. This figurine is quite different in another way since the catalogs and price guides begin with the Full Bee TMK-2 trademark and do not show any of these with the earlier Crown TMK-1 trademark. It is doubtful that it would be a prototype or sample to present to the Sießen Convent since it already has an incised trademark as well as the M. I. Hummel signature indicating it might be worth looking into further, but definitely being skeptical due to the difference in size and the lack of quality. Every now and then a different Hummel figurine turns up like this one and you need to have your catalogs and price guides (or this website) handy to verify whether it is a genuine worth investing in or a fake. I checked with someone who has one of these and was told that this was made in the country of Hungry, not Germany, of which they know of a total of about ten more. This one is a fake.
Other links for more information on what to look for:
- 2-Clicks – 2-clicks-collectiblefigurines.com/article-guide/hummel-figurines.html
- Antique HQ – antique-hq.com/how-to-identify-your-hummel-figurine-1527
- Deutches Haus – deutscheshaus.cc/articles/berta_hummel_figurines/
- Don’s Collectibles – donsbossons.com/page5a.HTML
- Etsy examples – etsy.com/market/fake_hummels
- Etsy look-alikes – etsy.com/market/hummel_like
- Hummel Copycats With Values: A Guide to Those Other Hummels – https://www.amazon.com/Hummel-Copycats-Values-Guide-Hummels
- Our Pastimes – ourpastimes.com/hummel-figurine-identification-5162198.html
- Reference – reference.com/hobbies-games/can-tell-hummel-authentic-67a7fa86919a4f06#
- Tips by Dr. Lori – drloriv.com/Tips/ID/21/Hummel-Figurines