Understanding Trademarks on Hummel Figurines

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Hummel Figurines

Adorable and collectible, Hummel figurines capture an era long gone. Often they show children and animals engaged in peaceful activities like gathering berries, chasing butterflies, helping with chores or exploring hobbies like photography or gardening.

The original paintings, printed on postcards in the 1930s, were created by Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel (born Berta Hummel) one of Germany’s Franciscan sisters. Her artistic talent was recognized by the Mother Superior at her convent who helped her find Goebel, the family-run company that began manufacturing the characters as ceramic figurines.

With so many Hummel figurines manufactured by Goebel through the decades, it can be challenging to assess the value of a piece you might find at an estate sale or that is already part of your collection. Knowing when each trademark was used can help, and with that comes some interesting history about these sweet characters who never cease to charm us.

The Crown Mark

The crown mark was the first Hummel trademark. It was used from 1934 to 1950, when the manufacturer, William Goebel, first introduced the figurines to the public. The mark shows a crown floating above the interlocked initials “WG”. This mark was typically incised into the base of the Hummel figurine, although some examples feature this mark as a stamp instead. The crown mark is a reference to the imperial family of Germany. Sometimes, the mark is inside an incised circle. Some figurines have two crown marks: one incised and the other stamped. This is known as the “double crown.” Subtle differences in the crown mark don’t affect the value of these first figurines.

Another common crown mark you might see on products other than porcelain figurines (such as dolls or plates) is called the “narrow crown,” or the “wide Ducal crown.” Introduced in 1937, the mark shows the crown floating over a cursive “Goebel.” Experts say there are a few vintage Hummel figurines with this mark, but they are very rare. If you find one, keep it!

When World War II ended, Goebel needed to mark his products as coming from an occupied zone, so from 1946 until 1948, his exports were designated with a handwritten “M.J. Hummel” signature at the base. You might also see an encircled “C.” Note that marks stamped over the glaze might have worn away with time. After the occupied zone designation requirement was lifted, the company replaced the signature with the word “Germany,” “W. Germany,” “West Germany” or “Western Germany.” 

Up until the early 1950s, the company sometimes used the interlocked “WG” initials next to the incised Hummel signature. It’s important to note that these standalone initials are not the same as the crown mark.

Example of "The Crown Mark"
Example of "The Crown Mark", 1963

The Full Bee Mark

During the 1950s, the company started working with distributors in the US and other countries and the full bee trademark was introduced for this new era. There are 12 versions, but Hummel collectors don’t place much significance on the variations.

Stamped or incised, the full bee mark shows a bumblebee floating inside the letter “V.” The bee was inspired by Sister Maria Innocentia‘s childhood nickname and the “V” stands for “Verkaufsgesellschaft,” the name of the German distributing company. Sometimes a mold number is incised next to the bee and you might also see the word “Germany.” You’ll see the bee drawn smaller and larger, floating inside the “V” at various levels. Sometimes, the crown mark will be stamped nearby.

Hummel, Full Bee Marking
Example of the 'Full Bee Mark', used between 1950-1959.

The Stylized Bee

Three variations of the bee mark on vintage Hummels from 1955 to 1972 were simple changes that don’t impact the value of the pieces. The most notable variation begins in 1960, when the Goebel company made the bee into a modern and minimal dot with wings level to the the “V”. Most often, “W. Germany” is at the bottom of the mark (and the bee is larger) or centered beneath (and the bee is smaller).

In 1972, the company added three lines of text on one side of the “V.” The “three-line mark” includes a copyright symbol (a “C” inside a circle) and the words ” by W. Goebel” and “W. Germany” beneath.

Example of the 'Stylized Bee', used between 1960-1972.
Example of the 'Stylized Bee', used between 1960-1972.
Hummel 'Stylized Bee' Trademark
This example of the 'Stylized Bee' mark was used between 1964-1972, and can also be referred to as the "Three Line Mark".

The Last Bee Mark

The last bee mark appeared from 1970 to 1979 and presented a much smaller bee and “V” floating over “Goebel” written in a sans-serif typeface. In the early part of the 70s, this mark usually appears under the glaze. Although Hummel collectors have named this mark “the last bee mark,” the company did use the bee again in the early 2000s (the “millennium bee” was in use from 2000-2008).

Throughout the 80s, Hummel figurines were usually marked with the “Goebel W. Germany” logo, a mark some collectors call “the missing bee.” Another change in this period is the addition of a traditional artist’s mark and the date on which the Hummel figurine was painted.

Example of the "Last Bee" mark, used from 1970-1979.

The Hummel Mark

With the 90s came a new trademark for the Hummel figurines. The “Hummel mark” includes the Goebel logo in its usual sans-serif typeface with the word “Germany” in recognition of the unification of the country. Underneath is the crown mark and the interlocked initials “WG.” This mark is usually found on products derived from the original artwork and drawings of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel.

Example of the "Hummel" mark, used from 1990-1999

The Manufaktur Rodental Mark

As the most current mark, the Manufaktur Rodental (MR) mark signifies a significant transition for the company, which is the sale of Hummel to MR in 2009. The new manufacturer’s mark includes a yellow bee along with the words “Original M. J. Hummel” and “Germany” encased in a loose circle. Below the circle, you’ll see a copyright symbol and the manufacturer’s name.

The top mark is an example of the "Manufaktur Rodental" mark, whereas the marking below it is an example of the "Millennium Bee" that was in use from 2000-2008

Other Base Marks

Other marks include mold numbering, hum numbers, issue and anniversary backstamps and issue marks indicating a first or final issue. You might also see Goebel’s handwritten signature and a copyright symbol. 

Refer to a Hummel price guide for clues about the value of the pieces you own. You can also learn more about collectible figurines of all kinds through this guide.

Example of the 'Hummel Mark'', used between 1979-1990
Example of the "Missing Bee" mark, used from 1970-1991
Another example of the "Missing Bee" mark

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