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The History of Hummels

In our nearly 30 years in the business of dealing Hummel collectibles, we’re often asked about the history of the Hummel figurines and how they’ve become so treasured by collectors worldwide.

Whether you’re a seasoned Hummel collector or someone who’s just considering getting started, understanding the history of Hummel figurines will help you understand why these unique pieces have touched so many people with their beauty, simplicity and value.

Although Hummel figurines made their first mark on the world in 1935, their true history dates back to the year 1909, when a girl named Berta Hummel was born in the small town of Massing, Bavaria as one of six children.

A naturally-talented artist, at the age of 12, her parents recognized that her home schooling wasn’t the best setting to fully develop her creative gifts, and she was sent to the Institute of English Sisters, Marienhoehe, about 20 miles away from her home.

While there, she was educated in a variety of artistic media as well as a host of other academic subjects. But upon graduation at the age of 18, it was determined that she needed further tutelage to ensure that her artistic talents were developed to their fullest potential. Consequently, she set out for Munich, a thriving center for art at the time.

Berta enrolled in the Academy of Applied Arts, where she continued to expand her education in the arts as well as other disciplines. However, despite this additional training, she never tired of her whimsical, precious drawings of children that would serve to inspire the most iconic figurines ever created.

Upon graduation at the top of her class in 1931, she decided to devote her life to God, and entered the Convent of Siessen which had been founded nearly 700 years earlier.

While there, she taught at St. Anna Girls’ School in nearby Saulgau. Upon the completion of her novitiate, she became a full-fledged nun and took the name Maria Innocentia, dedicating the remainder of her life to serving God.

Within a few years, an enterprising and dedicated porcelain manufacturer named Franz Goebel approached Maria Innocentia and proposed a partnership. Her drawings were unlike any he’d ever seen, and he instinctively knew they would translate well into figurines that would ultimately become an instant success.

Promising her the utmost in quality control, adherence to her vision, and that all royalties would be returned to the convent, Herr Goebel signed an exclusive contract with Maria Innocentia for the manufacture and distribution of her work through his W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik firm.

Their contract was signed January 9th, 1935, and, following a successful showing at the 1935 Leipzig Spring Fair, the figurines were an even greater success than Goebel had originally imagined.
Sadly, the life of Maria Innocentia was cut all too short on November 6, 1946 when, at only age 37, she died of complications from tuberculosis. Although her life was over all too quickly, her legacy lived on, as it does to this day, through her beloved figurines that hearken back to her childhood days in the Bavarian countryside.

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