Since 1934-35 there have been several changes in the trademarks used by the Goebel Company on M. I. Hummel items. In later years of production each new trademark design merely replaced the old one, but in the early years frequently the new design trademark would be placed on a figurine that already bore the older style trademark. In some cases a change from an incised trademark to a surface stamped version of the same mark would result in both appearing on the figurine. The former represents a transition period from older to newer and the latter resulted in what are called "Double Crown".
NOTE: It is imperative that you understand that the various trademarks have been used by Goebel on all of their products, not just Hummel items, until about mid 1991, when a new mark was developed exclusively for use on M. I. Hummel items.
The Crown Mark 1934 - 1950
Used by Goebel on all its products in 1935, when M. I. Hummel figurines were first made commercially available.
Incised Crown Mark - Stamped Crown Mark - Wide Ducal Crown Mark
The letters WG below the crown in the mark are the initials of William Goebel, one of the founders of the company.
The Crown Mark that appears twice on the same piece, more often one mark incised and the other stamped, is known as the "Double Crown Mark".
The base of HUM 163 illustrating the incised Crown Mark and the stamped Full Bee trademark. Note also the use of the decimal designator with the incised mold number.
The Hummel signature as a base rim marking. When found the signature is usually placed on the edge of or the vertical edge of the base. Some have been known to confuse this with the Crown Mark when in fact it is not.
When World War II ended and the United States Occupation Forces allowed Goebel to begin exporting, the pieces were marked as having been made in the occupied zone. The various forms and phrases to be found in this regard:
The Bee Marks: 1950 - 1979
In 1950 the Goebel Company made a major change in their trademark. They incorporated a bee in a V. It is thought that the bumblebee part of the mark was derived from a childhood nickname of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, meaning bumblebee. The bee flies within a V, which is the first letter of the German word for distributing company. Verkaufsgesellschaft. The mark was to honor M. I. Hummel, who died in 1946.
There are actually 12 variations of the Bee marks, but some are grouped together as the differences between them are not considered particularly significant.
The Incised Full Bee
The Stamped Full Bee
The High Bee
The Small Bee - Note that the bee's wingtips are level with the top of the V.
The Baby Bee
The Vee Bee
The Full Bee: 1940 - 1959 (trademark #2)
The Full Bee mark is the first of the Bee marks to appear. The mark evolved over 20 years until the company began to modernize it. It is sometimes found in an incised circle. The very large bee flying in the V remained until around 1956, when the bee was reduced in size and lowered into the V. It can be found incised, stamped in black or stamped in blue, in that order, through its evolution.
The Stylized Bee: 1960 - 1972 (trademark #3)
A major change in the way the bee is rendered in the trademark made its appearance in 1960. The Stylized Bee (trademark #3) appeared in three basic forms through 1972. The first two are both classified as the Stylized Bee, but the third is considered a fourth step in the evolution, the Three Line Mark (trademark#4). It might interest you to know that Goebel re-used the Crown-WG backstamp from 1969 until 1972. It is not always there, but when it shows it is a small blue decal application. This was done to protect Goebel's copyright of the mark. It otherwise would have run out.
- The Large Stylized Bee
The Large Stylized Bee - this trademark was used primarily from 1960 through 1963. The "W. Germany" is placed to the right of the bottom of the V. The color of the mark will be black or blue. It is sometimes found inside an incised circle. When you find the Large Stylized Bee mark, you will normally find a stamped "West" or "Western Germany" in black elsewhere on the base, but not always.
- Small Stylized Bee
The Small Stylized Bee - this mark is also considered to be trademark #3. It was used concurrently with the Large Stylized Bee from about 1960 and continued in this use until about 1972. The "W. Germany" appears centered beneath the V and Bee. The mark is usually rendered in blue and it too is often accompanied by a stamped black West or Western Germany. The mark is sometimes referred to by collectors and dealers as the One Line Mark.
The Three Line Mark (trademark #4)
This trademark used the same stylized V and Bee as the others, but also included three lines of wording beside it. This major change appeared in blue color.
The Goebel Bee or the Last Bee Mark (trademark #5)
Actually developed and occasionally used as early as 1970, this major change is known by some collectors as the last Last Bee mark because the next change in the trademark no longer incorporated any form of the V and the bee. The mark was used until about mid 1979, when it began to phase out, completing the transition to the new trademark in 1980. There are three minor variations in the mark. Generally the mark was placed under the glaze from 1972-1976 and is found placed over the glaze 1976-1979.
Missing Bee Mark
The Missing Bee Mark: 1979 - 1991 (trademark #6)
The transition to this trademark began in 1979 and was complete by mid 1980. Many dealers and collectors lamented the passing of the traditional stylized V and bee and for a while called the mark the Missing Bee. In conjunction with this change, the company instituted the practice of adding to the traditional artist's mark the date the artist finished painting the piece.
The Hummel Mark: 1991 - Present (trademark #7)
In 1991 Goebel made a move of historical importance. They changed the trademark once again. This time the change was not only symbolic of the reunification of the two Germanys by removal of the "West" from the mark, but very significant in another way. Until then they used the same trademark on virtually all of their products. The current mark is now exclusively used on Goebel products made from the paintings and drawings of M. I. Hummel. Other Goebel products will bear a different mark than that used on Hummel pieces.
There are marks in addition to the U. S. Zone marks. First of all there are several colors of marks that you may encounter. The colors found to date are black, purple, red, brown, green and blue. The color blue has been used exclusively since 1972.
Starting in 1990 Goebel began stamping any newly issued piece with the words "First Issue," during the first year of production only. In 1991 they began doing the same thing during the last year before retiring a piece, by marking each with the words "Final Issue."
Goebel's 125th anniversary was in 1996, and all figures produced in that year bear the special Anniversary backstamp.
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