The first Hummel figurines, mostly of children and based on the illustrations of the German nun Maria Innocentia "Berta" Hummel, were sold in 1935. It wasn't until 1971 that the German manufacturing concern Goebel Porzellen Manufaktur began issuing annual Hummel plates. Original plates have become prized by collectors, but not to the extent of the older figurines.
A good indicator of the value of Hummel plates is to view the Hummels at a discount online store at www.hummelsatadiscount.com. The online store has a large selection of original Hummel plates, all in their original boxes, dating back to 1971. As of March 2010, the original Heavenly Angel 1971 plate was available at $325, while later plates were on sale at prices ranging from $75 to $150.
Another good indicator of the value of Hummel plates is to go on eBay, the online auction site, and search under "completed auctions." These are the actual prices for which the Hummel plates sold. At any one time, eBay has several hundred Hummel plates up for bid. In March 2010, a collection of 28 annual Hummel plates, from 1971 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, sold for $449.
A third way to determine the value of Hummel plates is to consult the reference book "No. 1 Price Guide to M.I. Hummel, 10th Edition," by Robert L. Miller. The book has hundreds of listings of Hummel figurines, plates and other collectibles.
A plate's value depends in large part on its condition. Plates still in their original boxes typically fetch the highest prices. Plates with chips, cracks or scratches are rarely worth collecting, unless they happen to be the first issue from 1971.
The M.I. Hummel Club is an international organization that was established by Goebel specifically for collectors. The club has a wealth of resources for collectors of Hummel plates and other wares, including a club magazine. Club members also get to attend club conventions.
Thomas K. Arnold is publisher and editorial director of "Home Media Magazine" and a regular contributor to "Variety." He is a former editorial writer for U-T San Diego. He also has written for "San Diego Magazine," "USA Today" and the Copley News Service. Arnold attended San Diego State University.