As you know, Ralph Wood figures often have impressed mold numbers, and you can encounter identical figures with or without a number. In my mind, I am certain that Ralph Wood figures happened in this sequence.
- Figures made with impressed numbers, titled in small red script.
- Same as above, but made without numbers
- Same as 2, but with the oh-so-fashionable bocage that customers wanted.
- Same figures but now painted in a different palette and titled in large black script.
It makes sense that a manufactory that operated for almost 30 years tweaked its production in this way. Changes were evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and essentially, the figure molds tended to be the same. There was no need to modify the figure molds, just the painted details--and perhaps add a bocage. But there is an exception to every rule, and Ralph Wood's larger figures of gardeners underwent some modifications along the way. Let's look at it step-by-step:
1. The first figures look like the pair below. These are impressed "8" and "9". They are from John Howard's archive. I think these were made very early in the Ralph Wood era because of their low numbers in the 170-number range that Ralph used.
Last but not least, I pose a question. Have you any idea why there is often a little face on the water source on gardening figures and groups? You can see a face quite clearly on one of my favorite ruins: a partial figure excavated from the Old Town Hall site in Burslem associated with Enoch Wood. This figure is now in the Potteries Museum.