Banjo Betty figurine, imported from Japan in the 1950s

Banjo Betty Trinket GiveAway, Made in Japan

Our Adventure to Giveaway Vintage and Antique Trinkets from our Collection

 Banjo Betty, Made in Japan, a copycat of Joyful, a Hummel and the February Trinket Giveaway
“Angel with Lute,” a Hummel candle holder in the “Joyful” design

In 2016, we sponsored a monthly giveaway drawing for antique and vintage keepsakes at our companion website, Estate Trinkets & Treasures.

We chose to give away Banjo Betty in February during our Trinket GiveAway.

Banjo Betty is a copycat of an early Hummel by W. Goebel, from the art of Sister Innocentia Hummel titled Joyful (number 53).

When I first discovered Banjo Betty in our estate items,  I was curious. Who made this piece of porcelain, and what is it worth? … need-to-know info to determine its value. I searched through my books  on antique, porcelain companies to identify the manufacturer’s mark.

Our library is filled with books and magazines on antiques

My search was fruitless. The smudged manufacturer’s mark on the bottom of my mystery figurine was nowhere to be found. And even though the figurine itself had the appearance of a Hummel, I knew the mark was not one of the famous Bee marks.

Skier Hummel figurine number 59
“Skier’ Hummel by W. Goebel: TMK-2/Full Bee

We have a Hummel collection, and the markings are all quite legible, such as on Skier.

Charts abound in books and online to help collectors date a Hummel. Thanks to Hummel’s fine catalog system, the date, place of origin, and name of the Hummel can be determined by the marks on the bottom of a figurine – whether it’s Bee, Full Bee, etc.

Skier Hummel with Full Bee trademark on bottom of figurine
Hummel Full Bee trademark of W. Goebel

My famous process-of-elimination theory led me to error

Unable to find a porcelain maker identified with the figurine’s mark,  I defaulted to Beswick because not all early Beswick was marked by the manufacturer.

Convinced the figurine was pristine, English Beswick porcelain, I posted it for sale on eBay as $valuable AND antique.

Within days, a Hummel collector e-mailed to say the figurine was NEITHER Beswick NOR antique but rather a copycat Hummel by Japanese importer Akiyama, and dates from the 50s. (Reference: Hummel Copycats; Author, Lawrence L. Wonsch, pg. 43; 1987).

I should have known the figurine was porcelain from Japan as they are master craftsmen at creating copycat products of popular items in trade.

bottom of banjo betty with smudged #50 mark
Banjo Betty and the famous #50 smudged trademark

Importer Akiyama is known for the smudged #50 mark it stamps on figurines and trinkets. Their mark was nearly always both smudged and unreadable. Mystery solved. Not Hummel. Not Beswick.

Banjo Betty figure to be given away in february at estate trinkets and treasures
Banjo Betty

Quite the back story for this adorable and rare figurine, made in Japan and our February GiveAway Trinket.
Banjo Betty is as endearing as mysterious.

The painting and modeling on Banjo Betty are delicate. The glaze has a fine gloss. She is featherweight to hold. Although not of high $value, she is an endearing collectible figurine with a sense of history.

Made-In-Japan works of art!

Banjo Betty winner sends a note of Thanks!

The February 2016 Giveaway winner of Banjo Betty sent a thoughtful note of thanks for the little treasure!

Banjo Betty was in the mailbox yesterday when I got home from work! Love her! She goes with my few other figurines that are not exactly Hummels, but are still cute. My kids all played instruments, so this figurine brings back those moments. Thanks again!!!!! Peg

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Farewell to our Trinket Giveaway 2016

On Dec. 31, 2016, our monthly Trinket Giveaway at Estate Trinkets & Treasures ended. Thanks to all who followed our year of adventure.

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More Made-in-Japan collectibles

I am intrigued by the art of Japan. My Made in Japan Web page features vintage, artful collectibles made in Japan – art, dolls, glassware, porcelain, carvings, and curios.

Published by

Patricia Wiskur

My love for art comes from years in the studio of Wiskur Productions, with my husband, Darrell Wiskur, a designer and photographer. Also, I was an editor and photographer in the real world for 17 years ... all the while, thankful for an artful life and cherished memories. Photos are ©2019 Darrell D. Wiskur