CLEARWATER, Fla. – A stunning collection of some of the finest and most rare Hummel figurines ever produced, including prototypes, one-of-a-kind pieces and original artwork by Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, will be offered Saturday, January 16, by Blackwell Auctions.
Purported to be one of the most important of its kind, the 2,000-plus collection of Donald Deeks also features the four so-called “Mamas and the Papas,” more than two-dozen of the 1940s International figures and an extremely rare Schmid Bros., Boston, merchant display plaque.
A close friend of author Robert L. Miller, who was widely regarded as the world’s foremost Hummel expert, Deeks was a well-known and highly respected collector who diligently sought out Hummel rarities, researching and cataloging them obsessively. When Miller died in early 2020, Deeks acquired a great many of Miller’s rarest pieces.
According to his daughter, Donna Boldt, his wife, Patsy, shared Deeks’ decades-long passion for Hummel.
“My parents bought their first Hummel in Germany – a pair of bookends – in 1952, when they were newlyweds,” Boldt said. “Dad was stationed there, and they really didn’t have much money at the time. For several years after that, they bought them occasionally, but always a boy and a girl, representing my brother and me.”
Once their daughter graduated from college in 1983, the Deeks’ collection got serious.
“Their first major piece was Ring Around the Rosie [Hum 348],” she recalls. “Then they got one of the Mamas and the Papas, then some internationals. That was also the time they picked up the original sketches by Sister Hummel and original steel engraving plates from early Hummel prints.”
“Our parents would plan vacations around Hummel-related activities, and they always traveled together,” Boldt said. “He had good friends, but not many of them – I think he came across to most people as very gruff. [Hummel price guide author] Bob and Ruth Miller were very close friends, and they traveled together frequently.”
An accountant by education, and a successful investor and business owner, Deeks kept meticulous records of each figurine, including where it was acquired, its cost, characteristics, trademark, its rarity rating, and more. Through the years, Deeks paid more than $1.3 million for his Hummel collection.
Blackwell Auctions will sell the entire collection, including the pieces mentioned by Boldt, with the singular exception of the bookends that started it all. For Boldt, those simple pieces adequately represent nearly 70 years of her parents’ hobby.
“I am not a collector – we use all our stuff,” Boldt explained with a laugh. “I want the collection to go to people who will enjoy them as much as my parents did.”
For more information on the Hummel auction, visit Blackwell Auctions at www.blackwellauctions.com. Bidding is available online through LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, Bidsquare and HiBid, as well as absentee and by phone.