These Vintage Figurines Are Worth Tons Of Cash Now — But Their Origins Are Surprisingly Dark

For certain generations, there’s a ton of nostalgia associated with Hummel figurines. After all, the intricate, beautifully sculpted porcelain dolls took off in the U.S. right after World War Two, and they’ve found a home among collectors in the decades since. But while that means their value has soared, the delicate figures started out in a decidedly darker place. This is one origin story you won't find in a comic book.

Immortalized children

If you’ve never heard of the vintage Hummel figurines, they’re essentially works of porcelain art. Each carefully sculpted and masterfully painted piece is a model of one or more kids — often captured doing an everyday action. For example, one Hummel figure depicts kids dancing, while another shows children and a dog posing for a photograph.

Inspired by real people

Every Hummel figurine is also incredibly detailed, which often makes it easy to identify where they originated from. In fact, if you spend time looking through a catalog of the adorable characters, you’ll quickly realize that they’re based on German children — mostly due to the distinctive Bavarian outfits many of them wear. And this particular style can be traced back to the original inspiration behind the treasured figurines.

An arduous task

As you can probably imagine, then, creating a Hummel figurine is an arduous and time-consuming task. Initially, a sculptor spends weeks producing a prototype model from clay. They must then work alongside a mold-maker to ensure the figurine will stand up to the rigorous manufacturing process.

Dealing with liquid ceramic

To make mass production easier, the figurines are manufactured using molds. Liquid ceramic is poured into each mold and then hardens into the required shape. Seems simple enough, right? Not quite! Occasionally, a figure requires multiple molded pieces. And in those cases, liquid ceramic is also used as an adhesive to bind the individual parts together. And that's only the start!