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The company F & W Goebel was originally founded more than a century ago to produce toy marbles and slate pencils, coffee pots, and other utilitarian items. However, it was in 1935 that Goebel really established its place in the top tier of ceramics manufacturers by producing whimsical figures of children that to this day capture innocent, childlike memories in porcelain- M.I. Hummel. Franz Detleff Goebel was a ceramics merchant, and with his son William they founded their own company F&W Goebel in 1871. In 1879, the company moved beyond the original marbles and slate pencils for good when they began producing objects in porcelain in their own fired kiln. Their early porcelain objects were utilitarian pieces such as coffee and tea sets and dinnerware, but Franz realized that his son William had the artistic eye to take the company further into art ceramics. The anme of the company was changed to W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik and William took over the business. While the company was based in Germany, William aspired to expand into overseas markets and he sent his son Max Louis to the U. S. to create a business plan for American expansion. HIs son identified porcelain figurines as being the best opportunity for the company to cater to American tastes, but William passed away and thus passed the torch to Max Louis. Many German companies had closed in the aftermath of World War I, but Goebel managed to remain open. In 1926, fine grained earthenware was introduced to Goebel's works, a versatile new material that set the stage for producing the Hummel figurines as we know them. Sadly, Max Louis also died prematurely in 1929, passing the business to his son Franz Goebel and son-in-law Dr. Eugen Stocke.

Franz was aware that innovative ideas were the only way for the company to prosper in the years of the depression and the aftermath of the world war. He had the idea to create figurines of innocent children which would appeal to buyers by helping them to forget the financial and political turmoil. When he subsequently saw the artwork of a Franciscan Sister, Maria Inncentia Hummel, he had finally found the depictions of children that he dreamed of for his figurines and that he needed to keep the company afloat. Sister Hummel's talent for drawing children came from the days when she taught art at a girl's school, surrounded by children everyday whom she captured in her art and printed in books and on cards sold to fund the Convent's teaching and missionary work. Franz Goebel contacted Sister Hummel after consultation with 2 senior sculptors, Arthur Moeller and Reinhold Unger. He assured Sister Hummel that she would be shown all the clay models for the Hummel designs before they were produced and that she would have final sign off on the figurine forms and their painting. Her facsimile signature would also appear on each figurine, and Franz himself took responsibility for overseeing the production process.

Goebel was granted the licensing rights to produce these figurines from the original artwork, and thus was the Hummel brand created. The Hummel line was launched in 1935 at the Leipzig Spring Fair to immediate success, and the M.I. Hummel trademark was added to each figurine following the approval the Sister and the convent. Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel contracted tuberculosis at the age of 37 and passed away in 1946, but she left behind an extensive body of work so Goebel could continue to produce figurines from her drawings and carry on her legacy. Upon Maria's death, the Convent of Siessen appointed an Artistic Board that still to this day approves the forms and coloration of Hummel figures. Hummel figurines are still one of the most broadly collected lines of figurines, and W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik continues to produce new pieces and new sizes. Goebel ensured the success of the Hummel line through a commitment to the artistic vision and a rigorous adherence to consistency and quality.

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Luckey's Hummel Figurines and Plates: Identification and Price Guide Royal Doulton Figurines- The Charlton Standard Catalogue
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