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




Name

Ramekin

Variant

Ramequin, Ramekin dish.

Pronounced

(ramə kin)[RAM-ih-kihn]ræməkin

Function

English Noun

Plural

Ramekins

Hypernym

A type of dish

Purpose

Cooking

Etymology

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.


Meaning

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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Diana



Earthenware, slip-cast, circular bowl with low sides and a curved cylindrical handle,tapeing towards the body. The interior and exterior surfaces are monochrome clear glazed. They have an underglaze stamp under the base in black. No chips, cracks or stains. There is some crazing, consistent with age. They are in good condition and measure approximately 10.8cm wide, 15.5cm long (including handle) and stands 5.5cm high.
Width; 108MM
Depth; 56MM
Weight; 550GM

Earthenware, slip-cast, square body with slightly flared sides and rounded corners, a hollow tube handle tapering towards the body, extends from the centre of one side, glazed with a light off white/ blue glaze. Stamped "Diana / GUARANTEED / OVENWARE" underglaze on the base in black.These ramekins are the one colour all over, but with a transfer underglaze to one side. They have a hollow handle which tapers inwards where it joins the dish. They are glazed slipware and have an underglaze stamp to the underside. No chips, cracks or stains. There is some crazing, consistent with age. They are in good condition and measure approximately 10.8cm wide, 15.5cm long (including handle) and stands 5.5cm high.
Width; 108MM
Depth; 56MM
Weight; 550GM

Earthenware, slip-cast, circular bowl with low sides and a short slightly curved handle, tapering away froms the body, The interior surfaces are clear glazed and each is decorated with a wheat plant painted in polychrome colours, the exterior surfaces are differently glazed. Shape, handle and making are similar to "Seaton Grant"


Stoneware, slip cast, with an oval body, short angled (bombe) sides, and a curved handle with two rows of impressed wedge shapes in a band on the shoulder, glazed with a yellowish brown glaze with red dusted highlights. Raised mark "094" under the base under glaze and black printed mark "NEFERTITI / STONEWARE / BY DIANA". “Nefertiti” was one of the most distinctive Egyptian inspired design of "Diana" stoneware. Although they were mass produced and are of varying quality, they are becoming harder to find as retro collectors snap them up from the op shops. They are on display at the Powerhouse Museum, (use the link at end of this blog).
Width; 120mm
Length; 160MM including handle
Depth; 50MM



Eric Cornwell Lowe was born in Melbourne in 1901 at East Brunswick, Victoria.  At the time, a number of potteries operated in the area, but Eric’s father (Arthur Horace Lindsay Lowe, 1868-1938) was a Salesman and later an Agent.  His mother was Amy Beatrice Catterall (b1871).  Eric moved to Sydney and married Vera Louisa Christopher in 1932, they do not appear to have had children.   Arthur and Amy moved up in the world, moving from Brunswick to Moonee Ponds, then to Caulfield, an affluent Melbourne suburb.

Young Eric was quite entrepreneurial in his late teens as he began importing cut glass and crockery from Germany and Czechoslovakia.  Timing was not on his side as this began in 1939.  This company was called “Eric C Lowe Pty Ltd.”   “Maunufacturers of Utility and Fancy Earthenware”.

The shareholders of this company were;

·        Eric C Lowe
·        Mrs Vera Louise Lowe
·        John Christopher
·        Winston McKenley Christopher
·        Brian Winter LeQueene
·        Josephine Mary Permewan (Victoria)
·        Ralph Rankin  (Victoria)

Directors of the company were

·        E.C.Lowe
·        V.L.Lowe
·        J.Christopher
·        W.M.Christopher
·         
The business was incorporated in New South Wales on the 11th of July 1939, having previously been carried on by Eric as a sole trader, and was given 401 ordinary and 2665 preference shares when incorporated. 

Eric had a large amount of stock on hand and could not sell it due to the stigma now attached to German goods.  So, during the Second World War (1941) Eric and Vera got Government contracts to produce ceramic wares (cream ware cups and mugs and pots and jugs) for the armed forces. Eric did not join up as many of his contemporaries did.  Many industries supplying the armed forces were “protected industries” and many of their employees were exempt from military service.  Most potteries at that time were geared for the war effort and the demand from Australian and American troops was enormous. 

Seen after the company incorporated, in 1941, Eric began making art pottery.  This did not last long as wartime restrictions meant that this was prohibited in May 1942.  They began making teapots, jugs, cups and mugs around May 1942.  During wartime, price control measures meant that Eric had to submit financial returns to the Commonwealth government.  This fixed the price that Eric could charge for the output. Thankfully, these records still exist.  These give detailed accounts of all the itemised accounting for the business. 

These are notable for showing that Fowler, Bakewell and Mashman were making similar items for the services.  Still, this did not stop the business from making a profit of 39.3% in 1940/41 and 26.0% in 1941/42.  Profits gradually dropped and the next year they only made about 13%.  In 1943/44, the profit was down to 10.7%.  The next year produced a deficit of £411.  Late in 1944, Eric had to repay 25 of his workers back pay because of a Womens Employment Board decision that he had underpaid them.  These were all women as most men had by then enlisted. 

Although born in Victoria, his pottery was started at 122-126 Marrickville Road, Marrickville, Sydney and it continued there until the early 1970s, when cheap copies and imports caused a drastic decline in sales and its eventual closure.  The giant Fowler works were already established there works in the area because of the clay found in the area, and later, Studio Anna commenced nearby.  They also purchased kaolin from the Pottery Clay Works for £3.15/- per ton.

In November 1945, a fire started by a lime kiln spread to the works and quickly destroyed much of the factory. Fire is an occupational hazard in potteries and brick works but nevertheless it was a devastating blow.  The works had been extensively refurbished the previous year.  Contracts from the Services were drying up and production had to revert to peace time items.  When the war finished, Arthur began had rebuilt and began making domestic pottery for the homes of the families of returned services people.  This included a large range of slip cast vases in a variety of gloss and matte colours, sizes and shapes, or sprayed to create a speckled texture,

Their output included such products as ceramic horse-head book ends, several other animal figures, (a pair of greyhounds was a popular product) tableware, utility and kitchenware. Over 200 different shapes were produced during their lifetime.  Some products were sold using the name “Hollywood.”  By the early 1950s the company had more than 70 employees and were producing a large range of hand painted articles which included "Waltzing Matilda" musical mugs and jugs, and produced bright "gumnut" pots with pale green and brown glazes.

The musical mugs and jugs played when lifted, but the movements were expensive and difficult to obtain, being imported from Switzerland, so many mugs and jugs that should have had movements were sold without at reduced prices. In the 1960s Diana diversified their range further into decorated oven and kitchenware, hand painted with maple, poinsettia, cornflower, blackberry, wattle and flannel flower designs.  In the 1960's, a variety of small slip cast vases hand decorated in gold were made for a gift shop in the Imperial Arcade Sydney which were marketed under the name 'Imperial'.  Although these are not ramekins, I have some of them.

After the Second World War there had been a massive increase in the number of potteries around Australia. Commercial, studio and backyard potteries were being established in the suburbs of most major cities and by 1955 there were over 12,000 people working in the quarrying and manufacture of clay related industries.  This also included brickworks.  After the war, Eric had changed production to domestic pottery and throughout the 1950s, Diana was the largest and most prolific pottery in New South Wales, producing hundreds of different products and designs, many hand painted. Native wildflowers were a popular motif.

Among them, as mentioned, the Flannel Flower, an iconic Sydney plant used in imagery and art since colonial times.  Sometimes known as the Sydney Flannel Flower, it is usually known as the Flannel Flower and was chosen to be the New South Wales floral emblem for the Centenary of Federation (1901-2001).  It is found in the sandstone national parks in the greater Sydney area and can be sometimes found in spectacular drifts.  The flowers are about 50mm in diameter and appear in Spring.  The stunning Pink Flannel Flower is rarely seen as it only appears in the summer following a bushfire.

Soon after the end of the Second World War, Eric began advertising for more staff and soon had a thriving business making home-wares for the thousands of ex-servicemen starting their families.  His pottery even had a staff canteen, far more advanced than many of the other one or two person companies operating on a shoestring budget.  In the mid 1960s, they (Diana Pottery (Vic) Pty Ltd) had a shop in Melbourne at 343 Little Collins Street. 

The potteries around Australia employed thousands of people, many given their start in Australia following migration from Europe after the second word war.  Eric Jungvirt who started Studio Anna was one who started with Eric at Diana.  I think it fair to say that you would have had a piece of Diana pottery in yours or your parents home at some stage, probably a ramekin, a mixing bowl or a vase. At their peak, Diana employed around 70 people but this had declined to around 30 by 1970.  They continued on for a few more years calling their output “Dana”. 

In Australia, the Whitlam Government had cut tariffs without warning by 25 percent in 1973.  1974 saw an increase in imports of 30 percent.  By mid-1974, Australia was in an economic slump with unemployment rising significantly.  Short-term credit rates rose to extremely high levels and this caused prices to spike sharply, and according to Government figures, inflation topped 13 percent for over a year between 1973 and 1974.  On top of these problems, wage parity was legislated for female workers meant an increase in wages costs.It was in this climate that Diana fell on hard times and ceased production.  Eric was by then in his early 50s.

Much of the Dana ceramics were copies of the later “Nefertiti” ramekins, with a rough textured (Avocado) exterior and a brown glazed lip and interior. They also produced wares using the names Hollywood, Imperial and just plain Australian.  Check out the Diana website for lots more.   Also, a potter at Bendigo Pottery told me that the conveyor that moves the pottery around the Bendigo Pottery today was said to have come from the old Diana Pottery after it closed in 1974.  The entire Marrickville site consisting of the Fowler, Diana and Studio Anna potteries was demolished and subdivided in 1982.  Eric died in Sydney NSW on the 10th February 1977 age 76.  Vera lived on for many years.




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