This figure of Spring came up for auction in the UK about three years ago. A common form, but it intrigued me because it had painted lines around 3 sides of the base only. This is a feature we associate with Ralph Wood figures. And, in this case, these lines were painted blue--very unusual. I can't recall blue lines on another figure. Despite a modest starting bid, this very ordinary figure didn't sell. The second time it came up for auction, I resisted temptation again--and again the figure did not sell. The third time, I threw caution to the winds and bid. It was mine for a modest price. I had now started down a slippery slope!
About a year later, a figure popped up on eBay that seemed to pair with my lone Spring. This time the figure depicted Autumn--again a very common model, but those three blue lines had my attention.
Autumn had suffered a clean break through the ankles. This sort of repair I don't mind because all the original material is present. Besides, I had to see if the figure shared characteristics with Spring....so I succumbed yet again. When Autumn arrived, I was pleased to note that it was just as heavy as Spring, same body, same glaze, and the base was similarly formed beneath.
Now the plot thickens. This time, my 'find' was titled WINTER in a script found only on Ralph Wood figures. And the quality of the decoration was of a standard associated with Ralph Wood. Again, the same body, glaze, etc. as Spring and Autumn.
Neale & Co made figures in jasper, basalt, earthenware and porcelain. I have heard of one pair of Neale porcelain figures, and I have seen one figure in porcelain that was a look-alike of Neale's pottery Winter. The figure on the left is unmarked porcelain. The figure on the right is pottery, marked Neale & Co.The porcelain figure was fine, not heavy in the hand like the Ralph Wood Seasons illustrated above.
We know that Enoch Wood was another potter who added porcelain to his repertoire toward the end of his long career. Writing in 1843, John Ward noted in his History of the Burough of Staffordshire that Enoch Wood & Sons "have recently combined the making of Porcelain with their other businesses". I can't recall a porcelain figure that I can tie to a Wood pearlware look alike, but they must be out there.
Update May 30 2011.
I have concluded that the figures of the Seasons are stoneware. I have since found another Winter, untitled, and a figure of a soldier. Please see my blog posting of May 30 2011 for more on this subject.