The Iowan

M.I. Hummel Zeitgeist

By Don and Beth Woodworth

M.I. Hummel Zeitgeist figurines are strikingly black, quite the opposite of the all white form and 21k gold trim that characterize the Innocent Reflections series in our February article. They are all black except white buttons on Merry Wanderer’s vest and white underneath the bases. The bases have the familiar markings which distinguish M.I. Hummel figurines — incised identification number and trademark 9. Each has the incised M.I. Hummel signature on top of the base. They do not have a special backstamp.

Named M.I. Hummel Zeitgeist, the new series of bold black figurines grabbed media notice in Europe where they were introduced. Attention focused on the two young people from Sr. Hummel’s extended family who developed the M.I. Hummel Zeitgeist figurines and launched them with flair in August 2011 at the Messe Tendence in Frankfurt, Germany, a major trade show. Veronika Hummel and Maximilian Hummel, daughter and son of Alfred Hummel, the nephew of Sr. Hummel,  researched trends in present-day European taste and aimed to create a new M.I. Hummel product with contemporary appeal. They chose the term “zeitgeist,” which refers to “the general beliefs, ideas, and spirit of a time and place” (Merriam Webster Dictionary), to suggest that their line of fresh M.I. Hummel product is of the moment, in touch, and current. 

To hold a M.I. Hummel Zeitgeist figurine is to wonder at the deep coal tar color and the superbly smooth painted black finish. In looking at it, the details fade and the silhouette becomes the important form. We recognize the boy, the girl, the geese, by their essence, the way we might know a family member at a glance from afar. There is more sculpture and shape over color and particulars, more symbol than depiction. The figures are simultaneously less individual and more universal. They seem to us to be statement pieces, sculpture for striking settings such as on a pedestal or in an area of high contrast against a light background. 

The two black figurines shown here, Hum 7/I Z, “Merry Wanderer” and Hum 47 3/0 Z, “Goose Girl,” are the pieces available for purchase at the time of this writing. Two more models have been spotted in promotional material, Hum 123 “Max and Moritz” and Hum 49 “To Market” (size not identified), but have not come to market.  

At this time the M.I. Hummel Zeitgeist figurines are not readily available in North America, however they can be found online, on the websites of Das Berta Hummel Museum (www.hummelmuseum.de) and Veronika’s M.I. Hummel shop (gestattenhummel.bigcartel.com). Current prices for the M.I. Hummel Zeitgeist figurines are 240 Euros or $324 for Goose Girl,  and $475 Euros or $642 for Merry Wanderer. Online you can select to browse the museum website in English or German. Veronika’s shop website does not have the same option, but does have portions in English. While there, be sure to click on the “Presse” section to browse through the news releases and magazine articles about Maximilian Hummel, Veronika Hummel, and M.I. Hummel Zeitgeist.  

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