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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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, March 29, 2011

The Primrose Pottery Shop

An important link in the chain of the ramekin story in Melbourne Victoria is that of the Primrose Pottery Shop. It was in business from 1929 through to the mid 1970s. Not to be confused with Primrose, a middle period pattern introduced by Roseville Pottery in 1936, the Primrose Pottery Shop was started at 374 Little Collins Street Melbourne by Edith and Betty Mc Millan in 1929. It is a misnomer to only call it a pottery shop as it also exhibited a range of pottery, ceramics, domestic wares, textile and other artistic works.
It was a centre for artists in Melbourne for a long time. Phyllis Dunn (1915-1999 who helped found the Warrandyte Potters Cottage, once said “The first pottery that I had ever seen was in the Primrose Pottery Shop; it was [Allan] Lowe's, and I would press my nose to the window.” Other people were textile artists John Rodrigues, Michael O'Connell and Ailsa Graham, artist Elizabeth Durack and Stacha Halpern. Stacha was also a potter but moved back to Europe in the early 1960s.
The Primrose Pottery Shop was originally upstairs on the fifth floor above the well-known cafe "The Wattle", at 374 Little Collins Street before moving into the ground floor of a building on the corner of Little Collins and Howie Place, (365-367 Little Collins St) behind what was formerly James McEwan and Sons (McEwans) hardware on Little Collins Street. Edith MacMillan also commissioned items to display for sale in her shop. Some of them were domestic wares the potteries produced for her. She could afford to carry their stock where other stores relied on higher turnover. Being supportive of these crafts people, quality was not a primary concern.
As mentioned above, a number of well-known art potters sold their works through the shop. They also provided an outlet for some of the many struggling post-war European migrant potters. Often it was only Primrose, and surprisingly, the upmarket “Georges” store in Melbourne, that sold their output. Sometimes the larger “Myer” store would also sell them, but usually required a higher volume for their stores. It was a familiar sight to see these couples and their sample cases doing the rounds of the many department stores that then existed throughout the city. That is why it is rare to find any of these makers advertised anywhere.


  1. I Googled Primrose Pottery Shop tonight and found many references to this delightful outlet for handcrafts in Melbourne. I became aware of this arts and crafts outlet whilst working in the city during the 1960's. I am using today my first and I think only purchase an beautifully crafted floral bowl which takes pride of price on my Louix XIV sideboard. Originally I thought it was run by the Country Women's Association but was delighted to read its history as an outlet for artisans as early as the 1930's.
    Christina Callinan
    Doncaster East, Victoria 3109

  2. I am very pleased to learn more of this shop. In the early 50's I worked in the wonderful Cheshires Bookshop which was in Little Collins Street not far from Primrose Pottery so I wandered in there often. It had a great collection of interesting Australian home wares. Among things I bought were some serviettes by John Rodriques ? so I will need to research further to learn about him.