- Nobody has recorded a RW figure impressed 163, be it in enamels or colored glazes. So we have expanded the list of RW figures.
- Our research had attributed a look-alike of this figure to Ralph Wood, based on its attributes alone. Clearly, our methodology is correct! That figure can now be found number A163 in Section II of RW figures.
My week got off to a great start when I received an email from a collector who owns a Ralph Wood figure with an impressed number, 163. The figure is enamel painted. I have added it to our Ralph Wood Figures page (under the MAKERS tab on the top menu bar.)
So why is this so earthshaking? Two reasons:
The offering du jour can be found under MAKERS on the top menu bar. John Dale's work has been added to the list. Dale figures are so rare, so thanks to all who have enabled Malcolm Hodkinson and I to use photos so we could get this done.
To whet your appetite, here is one of my favorite Dale figures. And you thought the guitar was a modern instrument??
Please read the update to the 7/15/2010 posting "Imitation is the best form of flattery." Thanks to the readers who contacted me on this figure--and if you know anything about William Adams & Sons' design source for Caledonia ware, please, please, please share it with us by emailing me.
Many of you ask when my next book will be published. I am ready, but I must recoup the costs of my first book before I can proceed with another. If Staffordshire figures bring you pleasure, you will enjoy the 300+ gorgeous figures in my book, all photographed in color. And if you frequently ask me questions, owning a copy of my book will help you immensely.
See my book here, or email me if you have questions.
The Internet makes our world smaller, so I hear from people from as far afield as Norway and New Zealand. Staffordshire figure collectors are everywhere. I love connecting with collectors, but somehow last Monday's issues were vexing. My mailbox was flooded with enquiries from people who had bought figures that didn't resemble any Staffordshire I had ever seen, and from people who had bought very modern reproductions. What really pushed my button though: two eBay listings of what purported to be Ralph Wood figures. Coincidentally, both figures depicted Charity. Very common figures these are, and neither had a single attribute linking it to Ralph Wood.
After many emails, the seller of this figure removed "Ralph Wood" from her listing title but left it in the body of the auction. You have my humble opinion. Have a look at the information on Ralph Wood (under the MAKERS tab on the top menu bar of this site) and judge for yourself. For now, you can see the auction by clicking here.
And another seller had the same idea with his figure, described as "not signed on the underside of the base but undoubtedly is the work of Ralph Wood of Burslem." This seller took my concern seriously. He read our pages here on Ralph Wood, and promptly amended his listing. Thank you, thank you! My faith in humanity is restored....at least until I see the next repro listed as The Real Thing. You can see this auction here.
Because I check my email before switching off my light at night, Monday ended well. That night, I couldn't believe the news. A collector had read my Ralph Wood pages and he had TWO numbered figures to add to the list. In doing so, the numbering system got extended. It now reaches 170.
Each of these figures has a RW impressed number! Elijah is number 169 (a number thought to be on a figure of Fortune or Plenty) and the Widow is 170. No RW figure has been recorded with a number higher than 169, so our list has grown.
It may take a village to do some things, but it takes a world of enthusiastic collectors to build our knowledge base about Staffordshire figures. A million thanks to the collector who shared this information with us--and thank you to all of you who share your collections, your new purchases, and your questions.
To the dealer who told me no more than 3 people in the world are interested in Ralph Wood: you would be amazed at the emails I have had as a result of the Ralph Wood pages!
See BELIEVE IT on the top menu bar? Beneath there is a link to FAKE ALERT.
Go to it and read the update. Beware: our naughty eBay seller 1079edmund has changed his identity to Toby-20.
When an eBay seller has a private listing, your identity is protected. That might sound good, but believe me the seller is not looking out for your best interests. Instead, he is ensuring that there is no way to track you from the feedback on your purchase. In other words, if you purchase an incorrectly described item and a more knowledgable eBayer wants to tell you to ask for a refund, you cannot be contacted.
Thought you might want to see this particularly spiffy figure. Is the dog not lovely?
The floral garlands around the base are unique to "Sherratt". Also, the bocage leaves and flowers support a "Sherratt" attribution. This figure is surprisingly rare. I have recorded only two others, both formerly in the stock of the late Jonathan Horne.
You can enlarge these images--you know how to do it! Although neither of these figures has those tell-tale floral garlands on the base, they are definitely "Sherratt". I think the raised hand on the left hand figure has been restored--note that it holds a bird rather than a horn.
Although I have seen only these three early versions of this figure group, I have seen later renditions. Seems that the group inspired subsequent generations of potters. The group was made, with adaptations, into the 20thC.
In the order they are placed I think these figures are:
Thanks to readers who provided these pictures of Staffordshire figure of our Scottish hunter, but in a porcelain-type body. I believe these figures are ca 1840. Nice quality. Possibly not as tall, but I am not certain.
And, most exciting news: a reader drew my attention to this transfer printed plate bearing the likeness of our Scottish hunter.
The plates were made by William Adams & Sons as part of their Caledonia pattern series and are marked as such. I believe the plates were made in the 1830-40 period, but what came first? Did the figures copy the plates or did the plates copy the figures? Or, more likely, do they share a common design source? If so, what is it? If you have any information that can help us learn, please email me.
Staffordshire figures of the Vicar and Moses originated with a model decorated in colored glazes and made by Ralph Wood circa 1790. Crisply modeled renditions are lovely and can positively glow. Generally, these figures are about 9" tall.
The figure group was produced in enamel colors by other unknown potters in the early 1800s. Here is such an example. The modeling remains vigorous. The height is around 9''--same size as the colored glaze example.
Later Staffordshire figure group
But now we start down a slippery slope. It seems these figure groups were produced perhaps into the 20thC. Examples occur that just don't appear to be early. The colors and glazes are not quite what they should be, and the group always seems particularly lifeless. Nothing humorous or engaging here. The group illustrated is coming up for auction in the UK this month, cataloged as LATE 19thC. Hallelujah! Credit to the auction house, Mellors and Kirk, for not claiming an earlier date, as so many other vendors do.
I routinely see Vicar and Moses groups. From a picture, I can often deduce they are suspicious. But there is one example that is very wrong, yet it has lots of people fooled. This enamel-painted version bears an incised "R WOOD" and the date 1794.
The mark purports to be that of Ralph Wood, but Ralph Wood's mark just doesn't look like this. To see the mark, which is always impressed rather than incised, click here. Also, Ralph Wood NEVER dated his figures. This is an obvious attempt to delude! Note the letters 'S' in "Moses" are formed backwards, also no doubt an attempt to impart the naivete associated with early wares
When was this figure group made? I don't know. Australia's Powerhouse Museum has an example that was donated in 1927, so we can assume all examples probably predate that. Circa 1900? Who's to say? We just don't know. But we do know that this figure is NOT an early 19thC Staffordshire figure.
The Internet bring us many curses and blessings. On the positive side of the equation: we now see very many more figures, so it is possible to be increasingly aware of this figure group's existence. But don't let it fool you!
'The Sleeping Congregation' by Hogarth
The inspiration for this figure group was a Hogarth's engraving of "The Sleeping Congregation", published first in 1736. In an era when the clergy was notoriously lazy, the figure group appealed because it shows the vicar sleeping soundly in his pulpit, while the clerk, Moses, delivers the sermon.
As I did my run through of eBay today, I was perturbed by several suspicious figures, all appearing quite perfect. Remember an apparently perfect figure may be a well restored figure. A perfect bocage can be quite modern! Always check out the most perfect figure against what the form should look like. Restorers are very clever with their hands, but not always so clever with their minds. It is easy to make a figure look good again, but is the restoration correct? Does Venus hold grapes or a dove? Does Diana wear an odd little crown or a floral garland on her head? Often sellers are well intentioned but just don't know they are looking at modern restoration. I have a large photo archive and am always happy to share, so if in doubt please just ask!
I know a collector with the most amazing collection of early Staffordshire figures--probably the largest collection in the world. Her favorite figure is about two inches tall, not very well modelled or overly decorated, but it just nestles comfortably in her hand. This figure she intends taking with her if she ever has to move into the final stages of retirment living. I don't find her choice particularly odd, because the longer I collect the more I love little figures. No disrespect to those large masterpieces the potters wrought. I gaze at them in endless awe. But being awed can be tiring...and little figures are so comforting, so tactile.
My "Green Man", as I call the figure above, is not quite a tiny figure, but he is small. No more than 6 inches. I fell in love with him and my friend Nick Burton bought him for me a good while ago. I love the color, his sweet face, and the quaintness of the long coat on such a youthful form. A child dressed to look like a little old man. I can hold this figure in my hand and feel it warm to my touch as it brings a smile to my face. I can even give it a good squeeze--and all becomes right with my day.
About two years after buying my Green Man, I found the figure below. The similarities and differences intrigued me.
Clearly, this figure has been made by the same factory and from a very similar mold. Just some change to the length of the coat and the hat brim. Both figure forms are quite uncommon, although I have seen another example of the boy with the short coat. He is lovely, but the Green Man owns a piece of my heart.
Figures such as these add great charm to any collection. And they can be very affordable, despite their rarity. As I always remind beginning collectors, you can get a great little figure for less than the price of a night in a NY hotel. So keep your eyes open!
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