Ramekin is thought to come from a Dutch word for "toast" or the German for "little cream."




Ramequin, Ramekin dish.


(ramə kin)[RAM-ih-kihn]ræməkin


English Noun




A type of dish




French Ramequin from Low German ramken, diminutive of cream, circa 1706. middle Dutch rammeken (cheese dish) dialect variant of rom (cream), similar to old English ream and German rahm. Ancient French cookbooks refer to ramekins as being garnished fried bread.


1. A food mixture, (casserole) specifically a preparation of cheese, especially with breadcrumbs and/or eggs or unsweetened pastry baked on a mould or shell.

2. With a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 oz), it is a small fireproof glass or earthenware individual dish similar in size and shape to a cup, or mould used for cooking or baking and serving sweet or savoury foods.

3. Formerly the name given to toasted cheese; now tarts filled with cream cheese.

4. A young child usually between the ages of 3 months and 11 years exhibiting a compulsion to force or "ram" their head into various objects and structures.

These days, a ramekin is generally regarded as a small single serve heatproof serving bowl used in the preparation or serving of various food dishes, designed to be put into hot ovens and to withstand high temperatures. They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface. Ramekins have more lately been standardized to a size with a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 ounce) and are now used for serving a variety of sweet and savoury foods, both entrée and desert.

They are also an attractive addition to the table for serving nuts,dips and other snacks. Because they are designed to hold a serving for just one person, they are usually sold in sets of four, six, or eight. Ramekins now are solid white, round, with a fluted texture covering the outside, and a small lip. Please bear in mind that whatever you ask for them on Internet auction sites, someone is still getting the same thing in an op shop for peanuts.

However, there are hundreds of decorative ramekins that came in a variety of shapes and sizes. They came in countless colours and finishes and many were made by our leading artists and ceramicists. My collection has ramekins with One handle only, fixed to the body at one point only. If it has no handle, it is a bowl. If it has two, it is a casserole dish. But the glory day of the Australian Studio Art ramekin is well and truly over. See some here, ask questions or leave answers.

P.S. Remember, just as real men don't eat quiche, real ramekins don't have lids or two handles. Also remember, two handles makes it a casserole dish. Also, please note If it aint got a handle, it's just a bowl.

P.P.S. To all you cretins who advertise your ramekins by associating them with "Eames" or "Eames Era". Get your hand off it, you are not kidding anyone. The Eames people have told me that they never made ramekins.

P.P.P.s To all the illiterates out there in cyberspace, just as there is no "I" in team, there is no "G" in Ramekin. I am the Rameking, they are ramekins.

If you have a set of Grandma's ramekins at the back of a kitchen cupboard, have a look through the site, maybe you will identify them. Thank-you for looking.

There are many of you out there that have knowledge of Australian pottery. Please let me know if you have anything that I can add to the notes. It is important to get the information recorded. You probably know something that nobody else does.

Please note that while your comments are most welcome, any that contain a link to another site will no longer be published.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mystery Maker Marked "PFH"

These plain glazed ramekins are incised "PFH" in fairly primitive script. They appear to be mould cast with prominent stirrup marks to the base. Possibly "Picton Hopkins".

Crown Lynn

The New Zealand Society of Potters have reported that there are more potters per head of population in NZ than in any other country.  In the heady days of the ‘60s and 70s, almost everyone in NZ seemed to be a potter, or if they weren’t, they certainly knew one. Craft shops were everywhere and the pottery produced was earthy in colour and texture, domestic in scale and intended for use.

Clay in New Zealand was first used to produce bricks and pipes, however, as more people with skills in pottery and ceramics travelled from Europe, the ceramics industry grew. The largest period of growth was the 1870s and 1880s as potteries closed in Britain and many potters travelled to New Zealand where the growing ceramics market welcomed them. It was not until some of the early companies decided to produce domestic ceramics that they became successful. Many of their techniques including slip casting and press moulding were used to produce ranges of domestic ceramic pieces.

These types of Ramekins are marked "Made in New Zealand".  I have included them because NZ is so close to Australia and the top ones show some degree of artistic merit, even though they are mass-produced.

High gloss, graduated brown glaze. The brown slip glaze applied over the base matt glaze to create the graduated contrast in colour. This glaze extends over the rim to the inside. The glaze is in perfect condition outside as well inside. The colours are fresh.

These ramekins were made in the early 1970s at the Titian factory under licence from Crown Lynn, who began in 1854 when Rice Owen Clark made pipes to drain his farmland by wrapping logs in clay and firing them. This led to making pipes for neighbours and eventually becoming the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company.

During the Second World War, they produced millions of mugs and plates of varying quality for the American forces stationed in New Zealand and the Pacific, as well as tableware for the New Zealand military and domestic use. Quality improved and an increasing range of tableware eventually gained a reputation for being well made, in fact some was regarded as “unbreakable”.

Crown Lynn pottery was slipcast at the time and a trickle glaze technique was developed (as seen above) that is now sought after by collectors. In the late 1940s and early 1950s art pottery was developed. Until the late 1970s Crown Lynn was the largest producer of household pottery in the Southern Hemisphere.  In the late 1960s, Crown Lynn had an outlet at 3 Tivoli Street South Yarra, an upmarket suburb in Melbourne, Victoria. 

Crown Lynn bought Royal Grafton Fine China from Tams in the early 1970s. (More likely they just bought the name as the factory closed in 1972)  The New Zealanders were looking to expand into the UK and saw the acquisition of a local works as way of circumventing import quotas.  They believed that the Ottowa Agreement had made it difficult for New Zealand to compete in Britain.  They saw this acquisition as a means of accessing the US market.  In 1960, almost half of New Zealand’s ceramic production was exported to the U.K, yet thirty years later, almost all was imported.  Corporate neglect has been blamed for the ultimate demise of Crown Lynn.  

On the 5th of May 1989 it was announced that Crown Lynn would close.  The plant and equipment was sent to Goh Ban Huat Berhad in Malaysia.  Curiously, Temuka Homewares, part of Pacific Retail Group Ltd is a good selling line of ceramic tableware.  Pacific are the owners of Ceramco who bought out Crown Lynn. 

Crown Lynn became Ceramco in 1974 with the factory eventually closing in 1989. All assets were then sold to GBH Porcelain of Malaysia. Artists Rudolf Boelee and Robyne Voyce acquired the Crown Lynn New Zealand trading name in 1994. They started using old images of Crown Lynn wares as paintings. They now run the Pug Design Store in Christchurch that has developed a range of Crown Lynn wares including tea towels, cushions and cards depicting the company's most famous products.

The last set of slipware ramekins has that 60's/70's look, giving them style as well as practicality. They are made from a mustard glazed ceramic and feature a stylized floral relief design around the outsides. The bases of all 4 are stamped '1187 MADE IN NEW ZEALAND'. They are in very good condition. No chips or cracks visible. Each ramekin is 6cm tall, with a top opening diameter of 10.2cm, with 5cm handles.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Coles-Pettit Pottery

Pettit Pub Group

Wheel thrown ceramic ramekins with a styalized leaf pattern handles. Flat unglazed base inscribed "Pettit". Looks like they were made in the late 1930s. Plain light blue exterior glaze with plain white interior glaze. There are no chips, cracks or crazing. 

Pettit began in the early 1870s with John Cole as the Cole Pottery in White Hart Lane Walthamstow, a district of northeast London England.  Later moving to Folly Lane, Highham Hill, Walthamstow.  John’s son Edward took over in the 1880s and three of his other four  sons also worked in the pottery trade.  Eventually employing 9 men, the business had to shut down for a year because of a strike and the neighbouring pottery “Sankeys” undercutting Coles prices.  Sankey later moved to Nottingham, giving Coles a new opportunity.

The Pettits were related by Marriage to the Coles.  Mary Colley, who married John Cole, was the sister of Ann Colley, who married William Henry Pettit (son of Henry Pettit and Mary).  Both the Cole and the Pettit families lived and worked on site at the potteries in Green Lanes, Tottenham (the Tile Kilns).  Where William went after he left the Tile Kilns is unclear.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that he went to set up the Pettit Potteries in Walthamstow, but this was not immediately the case, as the 1871 census for Walthamstow shows that it was John Cole who, although no longer at the Tile Kilns and not yet at White Hart Lane, was actually at Walthamstow.

He was listed as a pottery proprietor (flower pots) and living with his family at Cambrian Cottages, Walthamstow. George Pettit, William’s son, was listed as a potter, living with his wife Julia and daughters Clara and Annie at 3 Cambrian Cottages, Walthamstow, next but one to John.  William Pettit did appear 10 years later in the 1881 census as a potter with a new wife Louisa and living in the Cambrian Cottages block at number 6.

So it was John Cole rather than William or George Pettit who started the potteries at Higham Hill, Walthamstow. However, John vacated them shortly afterwards for White Hart Lane, whereupon ownership was taken over by the Pettits. Whether or not this was always the intention, it is impossible to say.

According to a newspaper cutting in the Vestry Museum at Walthamstow, the pottery started in 1868 and closed in 1943 during World War II because it couldn't get the coal to power the kilns. Both the date and the reason are open to question, as London potteries generally ceased production earlier in the war so that the lights from the kilns would not signal positions to enemy bombers. Sales continued from stocks.

These ramekins are not very well made or glazed.  Just how they came to Australia is a mystery, although many Pettits migrated.  As I only have two of them, the standard theory applies; someone, probably an English migrant fell off the perch and their stuff found its way to the op-shop, where I found them.   There is no record of Pettit exporting their products.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Have I departed from my policy of Australian art ramekins only and included that famous English pottery? I don't think so. Not even close. Poole's was a short lived pottery, starting up around 1957 in Park Road Cheltenham, Victoria. These ramekins are of differing sizes but same shape. Slip cast with harlequin interiors. Well made, but the stirrup marks let them down. The signature "Poole" is incised, but is not clear on most pieces. These pieces have external crazing consistent with age.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Lane, Kemp, Willis Potteries Pty Ltd were established at 109 Highbury Road Burwood Victoria in 1936 and in one form or another, produced a variety of pottery until the mid 1970s. They also had premises at 329 Warrigal Road Burwood. The ramekins they produced appear to have been of one pattern. Some had a black exterior and harlequin interior. These have a mottled green high gloss glaze sprayed to the interior. The external glaze is matte. They are square with rounded corners and the handles seem to resemble those of Cotton (UK).  The circular ones are from a later incarnation of the company.

The original Lane, Kemp and Willis were; (believe it or not!)

Arthur Ulrich Superbus Lane, 450 shares
Graham Roy Kemp, 450 shares, and
Rupert Horace Willis, 100 shares.
In 1938, Alexander George Quibell, a Quantity Surveyor also became a shareholder.  Later, Alexander was head of the queue of unsecured creditors when the company went into liquidation.

You don't get names like that these days.  Their partnership lasted from August 1935 until February 1940 when Arthur went it alone.  Arthur and Graham were manufacturers and Rupert was an accountant.

All of the ramekins I have seen from Lane have had paper stickers attached to the base.  These have no sticker or marking, nor are there any cracks, chips or crazing. These are both a late 1950s-early 1960s ramekin sets.  They have a modernist retro shape inspired by the European potters who had moved into post-war Melbourne. They have a mid green glaze with brown and olive mottling and a finish called pewter in this range of ramekins.  Not to be confused with the reflective metallic finish. The square ones measure 4.5" wide x 5.75" long.

On the 21st June 1939, Lane Kemp & Willis who had been in liquidation, lodged a notice of intention to apply for registration as Lane Potteries Pty Ltd.  Lane and Willis were to be directors of the new company, Kemp was not there.  On the 25th of July 1939, the new company was granted a Certificate of Incorporation.

In 1966, the “Suburban Distributing Company” was listed as occupying the building in Warrigal Road.  This was a short-lived pottery business.  Southern Aurora Pottery Pty Ltd also operated from 1967 at 329 Warrigal Road Burwood Victoria, the same location as Lane, and now an antiques auction house.  By 1974, Lane was gone but Southern Aurora was still operating.  The name Southern Aurora comes from our equivalent of the Northern Lights. Auroras are the result of emissions of photons in the Earth's upper atmosphere. It was a popular name in its day, having both a train and an aircraft named after it.

The ramekins that Southern Aurora later produced appear to have been of one pattern, but with varying decoration. Most have a plain cream exterior and harlequin interior. Some have a mottled green high gloss glaze sprayed to the interior.  The external glaze is matte. The potters got their clay from the now abandoned Burwood Brickworks quarry, bordered by Burwood Highway, Middleborough and Eley roads, Melbourne, Victoria. Southern Aurora Pty Ltd were then found in the outer suburb of Bayswater, Victoria from 1975 to 1977.  By then, the Australian government had suddenly and without warning slashed tariffs by 25%.  This opened the door to cheaper imports and almost killed the local industry overnight.    

Later, from 1969, Southern Aurora Pty Ltd operated from their premises.  Although manufacturing in Bayswater, the company kept using the Burwood address for business purposes.


These ramekins are incised "Isobel" to the base. the shape and style are like those of Guy Boyd and Ray Cook, perhaps an early work copying their Bentleigh studio.  Copyright was a little more flexible in those days.
Standard reference on pottery marks (Ford) refers to Hilda Ilich as being Isobel. I think he may be incorrect on this one. Helen Ilich, Painter and Ceramic Artist was born in Croatia in 1914, migrated to Australia 1950. She worked at Ellis' in 1955, then Guy Boyd’s pottery, Crosbie Road, East Bentleigh. She left Boyds around 1960 to work at Isobel. She left Isobel after 2 years to return to Ellis. Helen then taught painting to women from a studio in her home. She continued painting into the mid 1990s and died in 2002.  Isobel  probably refers to Isobel Joy Fraser who ran the show but I have no confirmation or information on this.  I believe that both Helen and Isobel worked together at Boyds.
Described as "Hand Made", the ramekins at the top are thrown with the chocolate brown colour mixed into the clay and a light glaze applied to the interior. There are no chips cracks or crazing. They were made by  "Isobal Art Pottery" on the Maroondah Highway in Croydon, Victoria, now an outer suburb of Melbourne. She started by underglaze painting them with her name "H.Ilich", Little information is available on her or her work other than her working with Guy Boyd in Bentleigh before moving to Croydon where she worked helping Isobel in her normally one-person operation in a shed at the back of a shop. Any other information would be appreciated.
Diameter; 100mm
Height; 48mm
Weight; 300gm


“Barham” Stamped into base
Earthenware wheel thrown ramekin decorated with a speckled glaze to interior and exterior, not to base. Small stub handle.
Production Date
Probably late 1970s, early 1980s.
Length (with handle)
Rameking Reference Number
BAR 001-006

Barham Pottery was established in 1977 in the NSW town of Barham, on the Murray River, by Sue and Will Procter. The pottery produced a wide range of functional domestic stoneware, sold through a shopfront in Barham and through agents in Victoria, NSW and South Australia. The Procters have an entry in the 1985 potters' directory. At that time they employed a potter and an assistant and were planning to expand. Sue had attended art school in Penzance, Cornwall, in 1972- 73.   Thanks to Australian Pottery at Bemboka for this.

Stamped “Barham”, with a small map of Australia underneath, These small earthenware ramekins are too small to be real ramekins, but have the right shape and tiny stubby little single handle. They may have been made as a souvenir or to hold a single serve of butter or other table goods. They are well made and glazed.   Located 823 km south-west of Sydney, Barham, and its twin town Koondrook (combined population 1217) sit on opposite sides of the Murray River. Barham is surrounded by rich river flats and picturesque red sand hills. Timber, dairying and citrus fruit are the main produce of the immediate area. Irrigation is supplied by the Murray River. Go there! Have a look and maybe stay overnight.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Kryal Castle

It is not only the specialist potters who made ramekins. They can come from anywhere. These are an example. Kryal Castle is near Ballarat in Victoria. It’s a replica medieval castle, supposedly the southern hemisphere’s third largest castle. The castle itself is a vast complex of gothic towers, turrets, parapets and battlements, complete with moat and drawbridge and a host of activities including medieval re-enactments.

For the former owner and creator Keith Ryall, the castle represented a kingdom he always wanted to live in from his childhood. Keith built stage one between 1972 and 1974 for the opening with the help of local and overseas craftspeople and stonemasons. King Keith Ryall and his wife Queen Joyce were often spotted in the crowd. Various crafts have been practiced at the castle over the years. These souvenir earthenware ramekins are from the 1970s and the design looking suspiciously like medieval pottery. They have a small stamp "Kryal Castle" on the side of the base. Check out where the wire has left a pattern on the base as it was run through to remove the clay after throwing.

There was a story that Keith himself may have made these as he was handy at a lot of things.  I favour the idea that they were made by a local Ballarat potter who traded under the name "Old Ballarat Pottery".  

The property has been for sale for the past few years, with one sale falling through.  Several buyers were reported to be interested, some more outrageous than others. A new buyer, (January 2012) "Castle Tourism and Entertainment have now completed a multi million dollar redevelopment that has turned it into a world-class medieval adventure park.  This consortium consists of several local Ballarat business people and a British / Singaporean company.  The castle re-opened on the 2nd of March 2013 and  will be one of Victoria's top tourist attractions.  Go up there and spend a full day, or stay overnight as I did recently.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Miloslav and Damgmar Kratochvil
Incised to base “Elis 72” in brown underglaze.
Matte glazed clay
Mould formed triangular ramekin with moulded handle incorporated into the body.    Slight lipped rim and small footring.  Matte grey glaze over light brown underglaze exposed by sgraffito bamboo style angled lines to exterior
Very good
No 72 on base with signature.
Production Date
Width at rim
Width at Base
Length (with handle)
Antique Market Canberra
January 2013
Rameking Reference Number

One of these has a light brown glaze sprayed over with a deep bronze.

Miloslav Kratochvil was born on the 18 feb 1918 in Prague Czecoslavakia.  He studied chemistry at university for 2 yrs before working in Czech railways.  He lost that job in the Communist coup following World War 2. Being warned of his imminent arrest, he and Dagmar, then his fiancé fled to Austria.  She was born Dagmar Kraus, in Prague on the 22nd Feb 1910.  She was a ceramic worker.   Miloslav had been married before, but divorced in 1940.  He and Dagmar were married in Austria on the 9th of December 1950, in one of the numerous refugee camps they were moved through.  During this time, he worked as a bricklayer and quarryman.  On arrival in Austria in May 1950 he gave his occupation as chemist and ceramic artist.  They arrived in Melbourne aboard the migrant ship “Fairsea” on the  24th April 1951.  Like many others, they were transported to the Bonegilla Migrant Camp in northern Victoria.  They eventually moved to Collingwood then Abbotsford, both inner Melbourne suburbs in September 1954. Much of their earlier work was incised "MDK".  A lot of this earlier work was still in their home when they died and was sold by their nephew who inherited the estate.  If you want some, it can be purchased from an antique and collectibles store in Dromana.

They were among the group of artists from Europe settled in Australia post-war and were able to educate a generation of Australians to modern art, particularly abstract art.’ Two of these were Miloslav and Dagmar who founded “Ellis Ceramics”. This pottery was set up by them in a small workshop in their yard at 85 Nicholson Street in Abbotsford, Melbourne.  Ellis was said to be a variant of Dagmar’s maiden name, but I am not familiar enough with Slavic languages to match Kraus with Ellis. They began selling to department stores and exporting products to Japan. They marketed this pottery under the Ellis name until the late 1970s.
These sgraffito ramekins are glazed grey over a brown base, and then the surface has been heavily incised to reveal the brown underneath. This is a characteristic feature of Ellis work. Each piece is hand-decorated. The decoration is sgraffito (scratched) Wheat, incised with the signature “Ellis” and the number 72. This ubiquitous grey harvest ware is modernist in style, exhibiting a simplicity of colour, line and form that characterises a lot of work coming out of Europe, especially West Germany, in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Their pieces with greyscale sgraffito decoration are not unlike the work of David and Hermia Boyd.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Seaton Grant

Seaton Grant is not recorded in any of the references normally used for pottery and ceramics, but then, the Rameking is not known for using the normal references.  Seaton Grant seems to have had a small output, mainly only dishes and ramekins. Pieces occasionally come up on E-Bay and other Internet sites but go for very little money. There is an example of a "Mickey Mouse" dish. This would have come out following the advent of Disneyland on television in Melbourne in the 1950s.  Most of his pottery is advertized as being either 1950s or 1960s.  It is all 1950s!

 Signature “Seaton Grant” is both incised on some and handwritten in pencil on others. There was an advertisement for homewares by him in Hobart 1n 1951. They are well made and the ceramic, glaze and handles are very similar to those made in the late Diana Pottery stage. (Check their small “wheatsheaf” pattern). Maybe he worked there, maybe not, any suggestions? The “Seaton Grant Potteries Limited” operated from 80 Silverdale Road Eaglemont, Victoria. It was one of those short-lived companies that started after the Second World War. He operated as a sole trader until 1953 when he became a Limited Company. The company ceased trading on the 25th of October 1955. 

There were five partners in the business, all with equal shares (one each)

Geoffrey Seaton Grant
Roland Nicholson Barber
Winifred Blanche Barber
Alfred Blenkiron Elvish (yes really)
Wilfred Gillman Hall (Ditto)

Their last meeting was on the 28th of December 1961 and Seaton Grant Potteries Limited was removed from the list of companies in 1963. Geoffrey is listed as a “manufacturer” on the Electoral Roll. He is later recorded as a “consultant”, living in an affluent northern suburb of Melbourne. .


Premier Pottery in Preston commenced in 1929 by friends David Dee (1877-1934) and Reg Hawkins (1894-1971). Both men had had much experience in pottery before beginning this small business, set up at 52 Oakover Road in Preston. Previously this site was used for curing bacon. This was a perfect location for opening a pottery as on the corner of Oakover and St. Georges road at that time, was a large clay pit, virtually next door to the pottery.

Premier Pottery Preston was a small undertaking, unusual in that it produced only art pottery, all of it hand-thrown. David Dee threw the pots, Reg Hawkins painted them, and David's son Walter Dee (1904-1987) did the glazing and firing.  Walter helped his father construct a coal-fired kiln out of second-hand bricks and also worked at the pottery glazing and firing. Dee was the thrower (the potter that made the actual items with the wheel) and Hawkins, an Englishman that had once lived with the Dee family in Box Hill, was the decorator. Walter worked as the glazier after learning glazing and kiln firing. 

Earlier, in 1912 David Dee had set up an insulator works but was soon working in various other potteries around Melbourne suggesting this business did not take off. When he co-founded Premier Pottery he was still working part time. Dee was very good at throwing and produced all the early pottery.  His work was mostly for commercial purposes and the few pieces on which he signed his own name were made for use of his own family.  Sadly Dee passed away in 1934, five years after Premier Pottery opened and was not present to see the future successes of the business.

Dee, along with his five brothers, was an apprentice at Campbell's pottery in Launceston, Tasmania, where he leant to use the potter's wheel.  His father Thomas was a friend and neighbour of John Campbell.  Hawkins grew up in Poole, England, and trained as a decorator of pottery before emigrating to Australia. Dee and Hawkins, seeing an opening in the market for decorative ware, established their own business at a time when a number of major potteries were closing due to the Great Depression.   Thomas and his other sons; David Henry, George Henry, John and Thomas Jnr all worked in the pottery trade around Melbourne.  They all lived together at 49 Victoria Street East Brunswick, just up the road from the pottery.

Premier's earlier work reflects the influence of English potteries, due to Hawkin's background and training, and utilized underglazes and coloured glazes imported from Britain. However Premier's soon developed a style that was distinct, and by the 1930s became a highly established and successful business. Throughout this period Premier was characterized by experimentation in glaze techniques and surface treatment, along with the incorporating of Australian motifs into their designs.

The products of Premier Pottery Preston were not mass-produced. Everything was hand-made.  In such an environment, inevitably pieces were produced that were not intended for the retail market but were family gifts, experiments, or simply giving rein to the potter's creative spirit. Although perhaps not strictly 'Remued' many such pieces are nowadays amongst the most interesting and sought-after.

They are often incised with the potter's name or initials. Quite a few are signed by the principal throwers at Premier, David Dee and Allan James (1914-1979).  Others were involved too; industry potters, sometimes moonlighting from jobs at bigger potteries; and studio potters, notably Margaret Kerr, (1898-1958) Una Deerbon (1882-1972) and John Castle-Harris (1893-1967).

In 1934, they added a smaller kiln to the set-up, which included throwing and drying rooms and a storeroom for goods ready for distribution by F.R. Barlow and Sons in the city and the Primrose Pottery Shop (which was upstairs, in a building behind Bunnings on Little Collins Street) listing wares by various makers priced from 6d in 1932 and 1/6 in 1936. Edith MacMillan commissioned works for sale in her shop - just some of the domestic wares the pottery produced for her (See Primrose Pottery).

But the person who made the Remued pots so distinctive was Margaret Kerr, who modelled the gumnuts, gum leaves, berries and branches that were applied to the wheel-thrown forms. Catherine Webb, great-granddaughter of David Dee, writes: "It is possible that it was her idea to begin using Australian imagery. Unpaid, Kerr would go to the pottery to work on her own pieces, modelling animals and so on, which the pottery would then fire and glaze for her; some of Kerr's images were then incorporated into the work of the pottery. There is no evidence of this being other than a mutually beneficial relationship: no tension emerged over ownership of the designs."

Kerr was the daughter of painter Alexander Kerr and had learnt pottery from Merric Boyd (1888-1959); his influence at Premier Pottery was enormous.  Kerr also studied sculpture at the Working Man's College (now RMIT) and taught clay modelling at Brunswick Technical School.  The confidence and exuberance of her forms suggest a passionate personality

Pottery produced at Premier Pottery Preston is better known as the Remued range. The main characteristic of these pieces is the drip glaze style. Before Premier Pottery produced the Remued range they branded their pieces as PPP or Pamela. The name ‘Remued’ comes from Reg Hawkins’ second wife.  Nonie Deumer was her maiden name, which spelt backwards is Remued. She became an investor in the company after David Dee’s death.
Reg Hawkins had sole control of the company after Dee’s death and that generated much ill-will between him and Dee’s widow. This ended up being quite a difficult time for Premier Pottery as she then refused Hawkins access to Dee’s glaze recipe book containing much of the company’s trademark styles. Hawkins offered £100 to resolve the issue but was refused by Mrs. Dee. Eventually Walter Dee’s own glazes worked their way into the Remued range and the company continued to succeed. 

The continuous success of Premier Pottery was also because, two years before Dee’s death, a 17-18 year old Alan James was riding his bicycle down Oakover road when Reg Hawkins offered him a job.  Alan accepted and became an apprentice thrower working under David Dee.  Alan picked up the skill easily and was faster and better than anyone else in the company.  He enjoyed his work and would practice at every opportunity.  Alan’s skill and speed resulted in Premier Pottery becoming the leading business in its field as it was able to produce much more than the competition with little resources.

After Dee’s death, Alan was the only thrower and was responsible for all pot shapes from then on. He was also skilful with decorating pieces after having taken classes with Margaret Kerr.  As Alan James took over the decorating the style changed slightly and became more intricate, for example single veined gumleaves can be seen in earlier work but in James’ work the leaves were multi-veined. 

Margaret Kerr began working at the Premier Pottery from the early thirties, having worked previously as a clay modelling instructor.  She was responsible for a lot of the Australian floral and fauna decoration on the Remued range and may have even made the moulds of gumleaves, gumnuts and koalas that appeared often as decoration on the various pieces.  She was a talented artist though she only exhibited her own work during her student years in the mid 20s.  Originally Kerr would visit the pottery to work on her own pieces which the pottery would fire and glaze for her, and in return she would contribute to the decoration of the pieces being made.  Margaret Kerr’s decoration was another contributing factor to the ongoing success of Premier Pottery up until World War II, when she retired.

Alan James was the only worker to remain at the pottery during World War II. The only reason the pottery was able to remain operational was because the government had contracted the pottery to produce acid stoneware jars and white army crockery. Making any decorative pieces was forbidden at the time because of wartime restrictions.

The potter responsible for most Remued production was Allan James who had originally been taught throwing by David Dee.  In 1951-52 he set up a second small pottery operation using an electric kiln, not at Oakover Road but in the backyard of his home at 16 Esther St, Preston.  It may be speculated that he was preparing to abandon Premier Pottery, which probably would have meant the end of Premier because the pottery revolved around him.  Whatever transpired it is known that, about that time, his position at Premier changed from being an employee in a firm owned by Reg Hawkins to being a co-owner.  Alan continued to work by day at Premier and worked evenings at home as well.

The 'backyard' product, not surprisingly, bore a close similarity in style to contemporary Remued production from Oakover Road.  A new numbering series was instigated, the 'A' Series, marketed alongside the Later Series through the same agents. Like the Later Series the 'A' Series started at number 1 but was distinguished by the prefix letter 'A'.  Initially 'A' Series shapes were nearly all new, not repeating previous shapes. They included that favourite of 1950s potters, ramekins (numbered A1 & A2) plus lamp bases, dishes and vases.

Despite Premier Pottery in Preston producing large quantities of ceramic work, they maintained a studio, or handmade approach to their product. The people involved had, with few exceptions, trained in large commercial potteries but saw value in creating pottery by using the potter's wheel without the use of plaster moulds except for decoration. This is significant for the time, as the studio potters were developing sound markets, but were essentially working on a very small scale. There were also many large scale commercial potteries in existence but these tended to make thrown pots or household items as a sideline to industrial or builders' supplies. The Premier Pottery ran for nearly thirty years, filling the space between the studio potters and the factories in a depressed and competitive market.

In 1946 Premier Pottery was back to the level of production it was at before the war but strong competition arose from cheap Japanese imported goods, hindering the success of Premier Pottery. This trend continued, ultimately forcing them to close their doors for good in 1956.

Premier Pottery Preston finally ceased production following, in part difficulties over the lease of the premises.  Factors such as management and rental disputes, changes in the market place, and a decrease in sales, eventually led to their closure.

Despite having a studio atmosphere, Premier Pottery Preston was not a relaxed workplace; the pressure was on. Incising signatures and shape numbers was commonly done late in the day, by anyone available, and mistakes happened. Such mistakes present a problem for cataloguing.  An unexpected or anomalous number cannot necessarily be dismissed as a 'mistake', and while some shapes are sufficiently plentiful and well-documented that a mistaken example can be confidently recognized, is not always the case.

 Allan James then went on to establish Kerryl Pottery in the nearby Melbourne suburb
of Reservoir, at 53 Banbury Rd, and transferred production of 'A' Series items there. Reg Hawkins did not join him.  The series was extended with new shapes and new styles of glazing reflecting changing fashions.  Slip-casting was introduced for some designs, replicating popular pieces from other potteries including Beswick, Shorter & Son and E.G.Greenway.  Many familiar shapes from the Later Series also made a re-appearance in the Kerryl range, particularly after about number A88.  The name may be derived from Margot Kerr who worked at Remued from the early 1930s and was responsible for introducing the now highly collectable gumleaf/gumnut design, although it is believed that it was named for Kerry, the son of Allan and Myrtle James.

Premier Pottery Preston is considered a high point in the history of Australian decorative pottery and pieces are sought and displayed by leading museums such as the National Gallery of Victoria.
There was an exhibition of Remued and Preston Premier pottery held at Bundoora Homestead in 2005.

Compiled from
Darebin Libraries
Powerhouse Museum 
Penny Webb “Gumnuts and Glazes”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Kerryl Pottery, 53 Banbury Road Reservoir Victoria 1958 to 1980. Incised “Kerryl M5” to base. The name may be derived from Margot Kerr who worked at Remued from the early 1930s and was responsible for introducing the now highly collectable gumleaf/gumnut design, although it is believed that it was named for Kerry, the son of Allan and Myrtle James. The pottery was founded by Allan James, formerly of Remued. The "M" series may be named for Myrtle James, wife of Allan. Distictive slip cast, relatively small ramekins, square shape with rounded corners and pinched sides. Plain black glaze to the exterior with various plain colour glazes on the interior. Handles shaped like fishtails. Kerryl followed Remued after it folded in the mid 1950s.

Ray Cook / Raynham

The boxes these ramekins were sold in were printed “Hand Made Pottery designed by Guy Boyd”.

This post comes with a warning.  Some of what follows I have not been able to verify and I don’t want to be accused of being another purveyor of inaccuracies on the interweb.  The reason I have updated this is because Ray Cook is the most often accessed entry on my blog.  If I have got it wrong, please tell me, but since so little is available about him, here goes……….

If you have ever seen a ramekin in a second hand or opportunity shop, the chances are that it was by Ray Cook, or more accurately from the Ray Cook Pottery, although Ray was a businessman and never made a pot in his life.   He started a pottery at 938 North Road East Bentleigh Victoria in 1948 when the area was being opened up to post WWII couples producing the baby boom. They were one of Australia’s best known and highest selling pottery brands of the 1950s and 60s.  He must have made thousands of them. Ramekins that is, not babies.

Raynham Harry Cook was born on the 15th April 1902 in Bellett Street Camberwell, Victoria to Frederick James and Adeliza Cook.  Ray later lived at 24 Judd Street Camberwell.  He married Elizabeth Veronica (Pryke) b 1902.  The Cooks’ later moved to 218 Murrumbeena Road Carnegie.  Although the Electoral Rolls show him as a Clerk, he is listed as a Company Director when his father’s will was listed for probate.

Being too old for active service, on the 31st March 1942 he enlisted in 3 Batallion Volunteer Defence Corp.  He was discharged 21st August 1944.  This was a "Dad`s Army" of men who, while not allowed to go to war because of their age, provided Essential Services for the Government.  They were very serious in their endeavors to protect their families and the local area. They were part of the defence forces during WW 2, wore uniforms and trained in various aspects of warfare.

Ray Cook set up the Ray Cook Pottery in 1948 and later in 1950 set up Raynham Ceramic Pty Ltd.  Why did he set up as a limited company? Don’t think that there were two places.  It was done for good business reasons.  As a sole trader or as a non-limited business, his personal assets were at risk in the event of failure of the business, but this was not the case for a limited company.  As long as his business was operated legally, directors' or shareholders' personal assets were not at risk in the event of a winding up or receivership.  It is a common business practice.

The company was later named "Raynham" after his first name, and produced all sorts of lightweight slipware speckled and later lustreware vases. Being a typical accountant, everything was done on the cheap. The pottery wheel where the hand throwing was done was supposedly powered by the electric motor from a cement mixer. The building was allegedly not even equipped with a toilet. Not unusual for the times but Health and Safety people would not look kindly on it these days.

In the mid 1960s business was booming and Ray set up a second pottery at 237 East Boundary Road East Bentleigh, Victoria. He also operated another pottery in Carey Street East Bentleigh, sharing it with Guy Boyd who had returned from overseas.  In the late 1950s, Guy also had his works at Crosbie Park Avenue in East Bentleigh after his return from Sydney, Guy opened a retail outlet shop at 247 Bridge Road Richmond. In the mid 1960s Guy operated from the Ray Cook premises in Carey Street, East Bentleigh.  In 1965 Guy went into full-time sculpting and sold out to Ray.  All sorts of pottery was produced at Raynham, including vases, coffee sets and ramekins by the thousands.  In 1971, Ray was approaching 70 and sold his companies and the rights to the Guy Boyd ramekin designs to Bendigo Pottery.

Many Australian potters at one time worked at Ray Cook, such as Robert A. Schulze who graduated from RMIT in 1969 and, worked there in 1970 just before their sale to Bendigo; Bruce Anderson graduated with a Diploma of Art, (Sulpture), from the Prahran College of Technology in 1971. In 1972 and 1973   also worked at Raynham.

Paul Scholes' in his book on Bendigo Pottery says that their expansion program was set back after 1971 because most of the workers in the two factories were women, and the Australian government had, in 1972 passed equal pay legislation. With that and the lowering of import tariffs in 1973 and the subsequent flood of imports, (up 30% that year) the potteries suddenly weren’t quite so profitable.  Being an astute businessman, Ray had got out just in time.

Bendigo Pottery continued to use the "Raynham" brand for a short time. They made them to the same pattern but with different colours and a slightly wider base but without a signature.  The Ray Cook Pottery has been long demolished; the original site is now located next to the Ritz Ballroom.  Ray died on the 25th of September 1989 at age 87 and was cremated on the 29th at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery in Victoria.