Blackwell Auctions To Offer Important Collection of Hummels
CLEARWATER, Fla. – On January 16, Blackwell will be offering the estate Hummel collection of Donald Deeks. Purported to be one of the most important of its kind, the accumulation includes many of the rarest Hummels ever produced, including the “Mamas and the Papas,” two dozen 1940s Internationals, prototypes and Archive pieces, and original artwork by Sister Hummel.
“If you’d told me six months ago that we’d be running a Hummel auction, I’d have laughed,” said Edwin Bailey of Blackwell. “They’ve long been an example of collectibles that have lost their luster.”
Lot 153, International Hummel Bulgarian Girl 810 TMK6; Estimate $500-$5,000
But Blackwell accepted, given the collection’s rarity. A close friend of Bob Miller, widely regarded as the foremost Hummel authority, Deeks was a respected collector in his own right. When Miller passed, his Hummels were all auctioned off in Ohio. Deeks won many of Miller’s rarest pieces.
According to his daughter, Donna Boldt, Deeks’ passion for Hummels was shared by his wife.
“My parents bought their first Hummel in Germany -- a pair of bookends -- in 1952, as newlyweds,” said Boldt. “Dad was stationed there, and they really didn’t have much money at the time.”
Once their daughter graduated from college in 1983, the Deeks’ collection got serious.
“Their first major piece was Ring Around the Rosie,” 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.” (All of these pieces will be offered in the January auction.)
Lot 50, Hummel Merry Wanderer Daience 7 TMK1; Estimate $500-$5,000
“When I’m told by a prospective client that they have ‘grandpa’s collection’ of anything -- stamps, baseball cards, coins and so on -- I sometimes ask if their grandfather’s hobby made him neglect family, go into debt or lose friends,” Bailey said. “It’s mostly in jest, but it is helpful in determining just how serious of a collector someone might have been.”
Deeks’ daughter maintains that her father fell into none of those categories. “His hobbies never overtook his family time,” Boldt said. “Our parents would plan vacations around Hummel-related activities, and they always traveled together. 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.”
Boldt consigned the entire collection to Blackwell, with the exception of the bookends that started it all. For her, those pieces adequately represent 70 years of her parents’ hobby.
“I am not a collector,” Boldt explained. “I want the collection to go to people who will enjoy them as much as my parents did.”
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