I always thought Ralph Wood figures were a bit of a yawn. Generally decorated in colored glazes, their ghostly appearance just didn't push my button--although I had to admit the modelling was superb.
Then everything changed. I visited a UK collection that included a Ralph Wood figure of Minerva. She was decorated in enamels--and these were not any enamels. They melted as I looked at them. Puddles of scrumptious colour that played with the light in a tantalizing manner. I was smitten by what was the finest Staffordshire figure I had ever seen. And so my antennae went up in search of Ralph Wood enamel painted figures, and over time I have acquired a few.
Today, one more Ralph Wood (RW) figure was added to my shelf. It is a rare example, titled "Bag Piper."
You can see the same attributes--font used for script, red lines on three sides of base, decoration of base mound--on my pair of Flemish musicians.
Although we call these numbers "mould numbers", they should really be called figure numbers because each was, I believe, impressed into the base at the time the figure was assembled. The mould used for the base itself was a generic form, with no number, and it could be used for varying figures.
The seller of my RW bag piper did not know she was selling a RW figure. She apparently didn't notice the number impressed in the rear. In fact, she didn't even think to include a photograph of the rear of the figure. This is why a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! Lots of knowledge goes a long way in helping ferret out the unusual...and that's what makes collecting fun.:)
Don't forget to notice Aurea Carter's "Flemish Music" in the Showcase. Clearly a RW figure, it is impressed 131. Yes, 131, not 132! Why the difference? Wish I knew. We aren't quite sure of the purpose of these numbers. The most we can say is that the same number occurs routinely on each figure--with exceptions.