As one of the eight plate series released by Hummel over the years, the Annual Christmas Plate series was the shortest-lived. Hummel released its first annual Christmas plate back in 1995, with its last official Christmas plate being released in 2000. Modeled by master sculptor Helmut Fischer, what made these plates unique from many of Hummel’s other plate designs, was the way in which they used raised reliefs instead of flat featured images. This gave the angel figure on the plate, a more 3-dimensional look, that almost made the plate look as if it contained its own figurine.
- 1 Hum Number Sequence
- 2 How to Identify A Hummel Annual Christmas Plate
- 2.1 Features Shared By All Annual Christmas Plates
- 2.2 Features Unique to 1995 and 1996 Annual Christmas Hummel Plates
- 2.3 Features that Are Only Found on the 1997-2000 Annual Hummel Christmas Plates
- 3 1995 Annual Christmas Plate –Hum 693: Festival Harmony With Flute
- 4 1996 Annual Christmas Plate –Hum 692: Christmas Song
- 5 1997 Annual Christmas Plate –Hum 694: Thanksgiving Prayer
- 6 1998 Annual Christmas Plate –Hum 695: Echoes of Joy
- 7 1999 Annual Christmas Plate –Hum 696: Joyful Noise
- 8 2000 Annual Christmas Plate –Hum 697: Light the Way
- 9 Final Thoughts
Hum Number Sequence
Unlike many of the other Hummel collector series, the Hum Number order for the Annual Christmas plates don’t quite coincide with the order in which they were released. The first Christmas plate released by Hummel in 1995, was the “Festival Harmony With Flute”, numbered Hum 693. The following year, they released “Christmas Song”, which was given the earlier identification number of Hum 692.
The remaining four plates were released with the correct sequential Hum numbers that matched the order in which they were released, Hum 694-697, 1997-2000.
How to Identify A Hummel Annual Christmas Plate
All six plates have five key features in common with each other. The last four plates share all of the same design features, while the first two have two features that are unique to just the both of them.
On all six plates, you will find the same following features. If there are any variances present, you may have a modified Hummel plate or an aftermarket reproduction.
1) 5 Stars
At the top of the plate, along the rim, there will be five 6-sided raised-relief stars that follow the curve of the plate. The middle star will be positioned at the centerline of the plate, with two more stars evenly spaced on either side.
In raised reliefs, along the rim at the bottom of the top side of the plate, you will find the year that the plate was released. The space between the 2nd and 3rd numbers is centered along the centerline of the plate, with all four of the numbers being clearly defined.
3) Color Of the Rim
The rim of the plate will be painted with the same base color as the gown of the figure in the middle. This “band”, will cover the stars along the top, the year, and the stars along the bottom (we will cover those shortly), in one solid band.
Should you happen upon an Annual Christmas Plate that has the stars and/or year painted in a different color to the rest of the rim, you may have found yourself either a modified Hummel collector’s plate or an aftermarket reproduction. In either case, only the plates with a solid colored band are considered to be true Annual Christmas Hummel Plates.
4) Color of the Gown
Each Christmas plate has its own color theme that is shown in both the band along the rim of the plate and the gown of the figure in the middle. Unlike the band, which is painted as a solid color, the painting on the figure’s gown is not a solid color. By using various shading techniques, Hummel has been able to provide depth and character to the figure’s gown, that a flat solid color would not be able to achieve.
If the gown of the figure in the middle, is either a different color to the rim of the plate, or is painted in one solid color, then you may have another modified Hummel collector’s plate or an aftermarket reproduction. In either case, only the plates with matching rim and gown colors, or gowns that have been shaded correctly, are considered to be true Annual Christmas Hummel Plates.
5) Incised M.I Hummel Signature
On the front of the plate, along the inside edge of the lower right side of the plate, there will be an incised “M.I. Hummel” signature.
Features Unique to 1995 and 1996 Annual Christmas Hummel Plates
The first two plates released in the series have 2 distinct features that make them stand out from the rest.
1) 2 Year Stars
On either side of the year, there is a single raised-relief 6-sided star. Both of these stars are evenly spaced away from the numbers of the year and follow the curve of the plate.
2) Angled Side Profile
The figure on both the 1995 and 1996 Annual Christmas Plate, were designed to be viewed as if you were being looked at them from an angle. This allowed Hummel to give the illusion of the figure actually looking out of the plate.
On these older models, you will be able to see both eyes, the furthest edge of the mouth, and the furthest hand coming out of the plate. To many collectors, these two plates are the better designed Annual Christmas Plates, with some feeling that the angled side profile view gives the plates more character than the later designs.
Features that Are Only Found on the 1997-2000 Annual Hummel Christmas Plates
The first 2 Annual Christmas Plates were used to test the waters, and to see how popular an Annual Christmas Plate series could be. Following their success, Hummel set about increasing their production of the plate series.
With the increased production, came more artist-friendly designs. Unfortunately, this did result in a product that was not as well-received as the first two plates. The last plate of the series was released in 2000, with no more Annual Christmas Plates produced.
1) 4 Year Stars
Beginning with the 1997 Annual Christmas Plate, Hummel began to release the plates in the series with two raised-relief 6-sided stars on either side of the year numbers. These stars were evenly spaced apart and followed the curve of the plate.
2) Over the Shoulder Side Profile
The skill required for painting the facial features on the angled side profile figure designs was not very efficient for the volume that Hummel intended to produce. To produce the Annual Christmas Plates more efficient, the design of the figure was changed to an over the shoulder side profile design.
This new design only shows a view of the figure from a 90° point of view. Even though the figure is still 3D in design, they look substantially flatter than the original angled designs. No longer do the figures look as though they are coming out of the plate. Now they only look as though they were placed onto the plate, and can only look to the left or right, depending on the plate.
1995 Annual Christmas Plate –
Hum 693: Festival Harmony With Flute
With a yellow tone used as the base color, the Festival Harmony with Flute features an angled right side view of an angel playing a flute. At the hem of their gown, you can see a tuft of grass, with a tall stem red flower, and a black and yellow striped honey bee.
1996 Annual Christmas Plate –
Hum 692: Christmas Song
With a pink tone used as the base color, the Christmas Song features an angled left side view of an angel child carrying a wand and lantern. Their gown is adorned with 6 golden 5-sided stars. There is also a double-layered 6-sided white star at the top of the wand.
1997 Annual Christmas Plate –
Hum 694: Thanksgiving Prayer
With a grayish toned base color, the Thanksgiving Prayer features as right-sided, over the shoulder side profile view, of an angel child in the middle of praying. There is a border of red or purple near the hem of the gown.
1998 Annual Christmas Plate –
Hum 695: Echoes of Joy
With a yellow tone base color, the Echoes of Joy features a left-sided, over the shoulder side profile view, of an angel child looking down as they hold a flute or trumpet close to their chest. There is a brown-toned duel lined border near the hem of the gown.
1999 Annual Christmas Plate –
Hum 696: Joyful Noise
With a reddish tone base color, the Joyful Noise features a right-sided, over the shoulder side profile view, of an angel child raising a trumpet to their lips. The angel child has blonde hair and silver wings.
2000 Annual Christmas Plate –
Hum 697: Light the Way
With a blue tone base color, the Light the Way features a right-sided, over the shoulder side profile view, of an angel child holding a lit torch out in front of them with two hands clasped around the shaft. On their gown, you can see 5 6-sided stars, two on the sleeve, 3 on the body.
Despite the difference in designs that came about in the last four plates of the series, the Annual Christmas Plate series that Hummel released, has nevertheless proven to be a somewhat popular collectible series.
It is a shame that they only released the six plates, but by 2000, interest in the series had waned off to the point that Hummel deemed the series non-viable. With some collectors blaming the shift in design in 1997 being the cause for a general lack of interest in the series.