The especially in the United States very popular Hummel figures are based on drawings by the Catholic nun Maria Innocentia Hummel. The drawings became popular during the 1930s when they were released on postcards, so they quickly became easily recognizable to people who had seen them on a postcard. The popularity rose quickly and Franz Goebel from the Goebel porcelain factory became aware of the possibilities in the drawings of cute little children in a rural setting.
Goebel succeeded in gaining exclusive rights for the production of Hummel figures and production began in 1935. They were introduced at an exhibition in Leipzig and quickly became a great success and immediately exports of the figures to the United States began.
The very big sales success for the cute little figures began, however, only after World War II, when American soldiers, who were stationed in Germany, began to buy the figurines and send them home. This soon made them a popular collector's item. The sales success became even bigger, when Hummel figurines also began to be sold in the shops that were affiliated with the US bases.
Later, the figurines became a popular souvenir as the rising prosperity made traveling to Europe more common and people were given the opportunity to buy the figurines, when they visited Germany.
The popularity of Hummel figurines reached their peak in the 70s, where plates were also produced with the popular Hummel motifs. In 1977, the M. I. Hummel club was established and it still exists. Many figurines and plates were produced specifically for the club,which is active in several countries.