Olszewski’s Hummel & Disney Figurines
In the 1990s, as I began collecting miniatures, I learned about Robert Olszewski. He was famous for creating tiny replicas of famous pieces. But, living in the U.K., it was difficult for me to see his work. Therefore, I did not buy a lot of his pieces. As result, my Olszewski collection consists of only some Hummel and Disney figurines, and one piece from The American Frontiers Collection.
Who is Robert Olszewski?
Artist Robert Olszewski became interested in miniature figurines after making a dollhouse for his daughter. After leaving teaching in 1978, Olszewski pursued making miniatures full-time. Eventually, his work received national attention. But, Olszewski had made several unauthorized miniature replicas of Hummel figurines. Specifically, he had failed to get the necessary permission from the Goebel company to recreate their pieces. (Btw, these unauthorized Olszewski replicas are worth a lot if you can find them.)
Fortunately, the Goebel company recognized Olszewski’s talent and put him under contract. Olszewski and Goebel created the Goebel Miniatures Studio. Initially, the first Olszewski Hummel figurines had a circular stamp on the bottom. This stamp included both Goebel’s name and Olszewski’s name. However, the Studio later removed Olszewski’s name. If you can find a Hummel with his name, it is pretty valuable.
My Miniature Hummel Figurines
In a previous post, I discuss how I became interested in Robert Olszewski figurines. Today, I have three Hummel figurines in my collection. Although the issue date for each is 1988, I bought them between 1991-1995. Also, I placed my Hummel figurines in the Olszewski display piece called Bavarian Kinderway Cottage. (The display piece is available on Amazon for about $50 and on eBay for $45. Unfortunately, I do not recall what I paid for it. ) The display came with a dome, which I have removed in the photos below due to the glare.
Stormy Weather ($115)
Merry Wanderer ($95)
Little Sweeper ($90)
The American Frontiers Collection
While at Goebel Studios, Olszewski created several non-Hummel figurine lines. One of the figurine series is The American Frontiers Collection (1987). The piece that caught my eye from this line was his “The End of the Trail” miniature. Consequently, I bought the miniature for $80 in 1991 (a hefty sum in those days). In my opinion, it is a beautiful replica of the James Earle Fraser sculpture. The miniature is of a weary Native American rider on a horse and captures the sorrow of Fraser’s original piece. If eBay is a guide, the miniature I bought is worth double what I paid for it.
In addition to the American Frontier Collection, some other Olszewski’s non-Hummel series included: Historical, Wildlife, Doulton, Americana, Women, Children and more.
Post Goebel Work
Robert Olszewski won several awards, including “International Collectible Artist of the Year.” In 1994, he left Goebel Miniatures Studios and opened privately owned Olszewski Studios in California.
In 1995, Walt Disney Company commissioned Olszewski to prototype figurines for their Enchanted Places Program. Olszewski continued to work with Disney to design and create other lines, like Steamboat Willie, Main Street, U.S.A, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Cinderella’s Castle.
My Disney Pieces
In the early 1990s, I collected two Olszewski Disney figurines and two display pieces. Both work well as home decor items.
Fantasia Living Brooms ($85)/The Sorcerer’s Apprentice ($80)
Pinocchio ($85) and Geppetto’s Toy Shop ($105)
Robert Olszewski miniatures – whether Hummel or Disney figurines – are not cheap. However, when you understand how involved the process is to create these small-scale works of art, then the cost makes sense. I read that the artist spends 200 or more hours just to carve the new creation in wax. Moreover, each wax figurine is an original. Next, the wax sculpture is converted into a sterling silver master mold. From this mold, plaster molds are made and molten bronze is poured into them. After that, the artist must paint the miniature. A detailed explanation of the process is in the book, The Goebel Miniatures of Robert Olszewski by Dick Hunt (1989).
I listed what I paid for each Olszewski miniature. If you want to buy Olszewski Hummel or Disney figurines, some are easier to find versus others. Specifically, the Mickey, Pinocchio, and The End of the Trail figurines are difficult to find. However, the Hummel miniatures are readily available on eBay and Etsy.
Article Sources: http://EzineArticles.com/555045, olszewskistudios.com, The Goebel Miniatures of Robert Olszewski by Dick Hunt