As estate sale shoppers browse sale venues across the United States, they’re always searching for Hummel plates to add to their collections. These delightful little bas relief plates feature whimsical themes and charming children. Learn how to identify these popular collectibles and obtain realistic selling prices.
History of Hummel Plates
Hummel plates are an offshoot of the wildly popular Hummel figurines that have been produced in Germany since 1935. In 1971, a German manufacturing company introduced a line of plates with similar motifs.
Inspiration for Hummel Plates
Hummel plates came from Hummel figurines. The inspiration for the figurines came from the pen of Berta Hummel, a young German woman with uncanny artistic abilities. She refined her techniques at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.
In 1934, Berta Hummel changed her life’s direction, taking her vows as a nun. Thereafter, she was called Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel. She lived at the convent of Siessen at Saulgau, teaching kindergarten and continuing her artwork.
Birth of Hummel Figurines
German manufacturer Franz Goebel decided to use Sister Maria’s sketches in his new figurines. In 1935, Goebel forged an agreement with the convent and Sister Maria Innocentia. Franz’s family-owned porcelain business, W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik, would carefully handcraft every figurine while Sister Maria retained final artistic control.
Hummel Plates Production
After many years of producing Hummel figurines, Franz Goebel introduced a similar line of Hummel plates. His whimsical creations immediately became popular with American collectors.
The First Hummel Plate: 1971
The very first hand-painted Hummel plate was introduced in 1971. This charming first edition “Heavenly Angel” plate premiered on the 100th anniversary of the Goebel factory opening.
Without the box, this lovely anniversary plate’s value is estimated at between $100 and $200. A plate with an excellent-condition box commands a higher price. In the 1980s, its price was an inflated $2,500, however its value is much less steep now.
How to Identify Authentic M.I. Hummel Plates
All Goebel-produced Hummel plates have specific marks printed on the back of the plate. Collectively, the marks identify the item as an authentic M.I. Hummel plate.
- Trademark: The back of the plate should show the “TMK” trademark printed in cobalt blue. This was the correct trademark on the manufacturing date.
- Circular Text Design: Each authentic Hummel plate has a circular text design with varying texts to describe the specifics of the plate.
- Plate Name and Series Descriptor: The plate name and plate series descriptor should also appear on the back of the plate.
- M.I. Hummel Name Position: The Hummel name should be positioned near the center of the circular text design.
- Position of Additional Identifiers: Look for Goebel’s full name, the plate name, or the plate series descriptor below or above the M.I. Hummel text.
- Full-Size Plate Text: Each plate should display the correct Goebel TMK logo and Hummel Number (ID Number) under the circular text.
- Mini-Plate Series Text: Each plate should show the proper Goebel TMK logo, along with the Hummel Number, above or below the core center printed text.
Missing Marks’ Significance
The above marks are what you should expect to see on each authentic Hummel plate. If you don’t see most of these marks, it is probably not authentic. You most likely have a reproduction, a licensed piece from another company, or an item produced with legal access to earlier Berta Hummel artwork.
Hummel Plates Value Guide
There are quite a few factors that go into determining the worth of any specific Hummel plate. But, on average, Hummel plates’ values range from $10 to $200, depending on the age, condition, packaging, and sales venue.
To determine a Hummel plate’s value, consider the plate’s production year. Hummel plates were produced from 1971 through 1995. The year of release marking, located on the plate’s underside, will tell you the plate’s age. Older Hummel plates have a higher market value than more recent versions.
A Hummel plate’s condition dictates its worth. Plates fall into several groups:
A mint condition plate should come with its original box. Both the plate and box should be in perfect condition without any signs of wear or use. These Hummel plates bring the highest prices.
A Hummel plate in excellent condition generally comes in its original box, although the box may be somewhat worn. However, the plate should be in great condition. The plate should not show cracking, discoloration, staining, or other damage.
A Hummel plate in good condition may be missing its original box. The plate may show some discoloration, and some gold sponging may be gone. This plate may exhibit minor usage issues.
These plates are usually without their original packaging. They typically show crazing, cracks, and/or chips. This damage generally drives the plate’s value down. Unless these damaged plates are among the very first Hummel plate editions, they aren’t worth very much.
A Hummel plate in its original box has a higher market value than one without a box. Even if two plates are in similar condition, the boxed plate will bring a higher auction price.
Collector Plate Market Volatility
During the 1970s and 1980s, many manufacturers’ decorative plates were in high demand. Franklin Mint, Danbury Mint, and Bradford Exchange were three big names in the collector plate industry.
Consumers flocked to collector plates because the collectibles possessed decorative value. Frenzied buyers also purchased the collector plates for their perceived investment potential.
Instead of appreciating, however, the plates lost much of their worth in the 1990s. In the 21st century, a Hummel plate often sells for $10 or less on online auction sites. However, the oldest plates are still sought-after collectibles that command better prices.
Though the collector plate market has experienced a downturn in recent years, certain collector plates have begun to recoup their value. This is due mainly to baby boomers. Older buyers are drawn to the plates, especially Hummel plates, for nostalgic reasons.
Hummel Plates Price Guide
To find up-to-date prices for specific Hummel plates, view online auction “Sold” prices. You should also refer to a Hummel reference book for comparison.
eBay “Sold” Prices
To find eBay “Sold” Prices for a specific Hummel plate, click the “Advanced” tab to the right of the blue search bar. Type in the specific plate series and model, and select “Collector Plates.” Click “Sold Listings” and “Search.”
Other Online Auction “Sold” Prices
Several online auction houses provide details on completed Hummel plates sales. Follow the website’s prompts to view “Sold” prices for a specific plate.
Consult a Hummel reference book for information on Hummel plates prices. “The No. 1 Price Guide to M.I. Hummel, 10th Edition,” by Robert L. Miller is chock-full of Hummel plate listings and pricing details.
Major Hummel Plates Series
Some Hummel plate collectors aren’t aware that Hummel issued eight major plate series from 1971 to 1995. Most of the series feature full-size plates, although two series showcase smaller mini-plates. It is a collector’s dream to have all the plates from one series. The first step in finding an entire plate series is to know what you’re looking for!
Hummel Annual Plates Series: 1971-1995
Collectors are very familiar with this popular series. Notable Hummel annual plates include:
- Hummel Hear Ye, Hear Ye Annual Plate: 1972
- Hummel Globe Trotter Annual Plate: 1973
- Hummel Goose Girl Annual Plate: 1974
- MJ Hummel Happy Pastime Annual Plate: 1978
- Hummel School Girl Annual Plate: 1980
- Hummel Goebel Umbrella Boy Annual Plate: 1981
- Hummel Goebel Umbrella Girl Annual Plate: 1982
- Goebel Hummel Postman Annual Plate: 1983
- Hummel Little Helper Annual Plate: 1984
- Hummel Chick Girl Annual Plate: 1985
- M. I. Hummel Little Goat Herder Annual Plate: 1988
- M. I. Hummel Farm Boy Annual Plate: 1989
- M. I. Hummel Just Resting Annual Plate: 1991
- Goebel Hummel Wayside Harmony Annual Plate: 1992
Celebration Plate Series
This four-plate set has a cheery-looking theme. Each plate features a child engaged in some type of celebration.
Four Seasons Plate Series
Each year, Hummel issued a four-plate series featuring children enjoying seasonal settings. Each series includes winter, spring, summer, and fall collector plates.
Friends Forever Plate Series
These appealing themed plates offer different glimpses into the world of friendship. The plates sometimes depict two animals together.
Annual Hummel Christmas Plate Series
Holiday themed Hummel Christmas plates are popular with collectors. The 1975 “Ride into Christmas” plate has its own special charm. Besides enhancing a home’s holiday décor, the Christmas plates present a festive display all year ’round.
Little Homemakers Mini-plate Series
This Hummel little plate series features four happy-looking girls. Each girl is engaged in a specific homemaking task.
Little Music Makers Mini-plate Series
This miniature plate series has a music theme and features four industrious boys. Each child plays an instrument or belts out a song.
Century Collection Miniature Plate Series
This popular series features 12 miniature Hummel collector plate scenes. Depending on the source, these plates may come with a display box.
Other Manufacturers’ Hummel Collector Plates
Other manufacturers also created Hummel plate versions. One of the most famous manufacturers was Danbury Mint. The Danbury Mint Hummel plates are a fan favorite.
The following are a few Danbury Mint Hummel plates:
- Limited Edition M.J. Hummel “Come Back Soon” collector plate: 1990
- M.I. Hummel Apple Tree Boy and Apple Tree Girl plate: 1992.
- M J Hummel “Feeding Time” plate: 1991
Where to Find Hummel Plates
Finding Hummel plates is relatively easy. Over the years, these desirable collectibles have made their way to varied sale venues.
When looking for plates, be sure to look for the plate’s authenticity and its condition. As always, it’s best to see the plate in person before purchasing.
Local estate sales should be your first choice. Many sales are overflowing with vintage collectibles. You may even find an entire series of annual collector plates or another plate series.
Well-stocked antique shops are home to many vintage curiosities. Many shops also rent space to antique dealers. Some dealers may carry Hummel plates and Hummel figurines.
You’ll have fairly good odds of finding Hummel annual plates at non-profit thrift stores. You may even find a Hummel plate still in its box.
National (and international) online marketplaces are popular sources of vintage collectibles. At the time of this writing, eBay has over 6,000 Hummel plates listed for auction or sale. Etsy lists almost 1,500 Hummel plates. Ruby Lane features 30 vintage Hummel plates.
Hummel plates continue to be desirable collectibles, and the older ones can have considerable value. By doing your research, you’ll know what to look for at your next estate sale.