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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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


Monday, February 20, 2012

Boyd, David and Hermia Boyd


David and Hermia Boyd


David and Hermia Boyd <>
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Incised D & H Boyd to base
Bowl curving inward to footring base.  Curved handle with hole at outer end.  Sgraffito vertical stripes to exterior.  Mottled blueish glaze to interior of bowl.  Different colour to each bowl.  Clear matte glaze to interior and exterior.
Good condition with small chip to rim of one bowl.
Not numbered
Production Date
1955 to 1957
Length (with handle)
E-Bay 21st Feb 2011
Rameking Reference Number
DHB 001-002

There is a story that sums up these David Boyd ramekins in my opinion.  “The Emperors New Clothes.”  Of average making, roughly decorated yet functional, but still, which is a mystery to me, highly collectable.  They were made by husband and wife team David and Hermia Boyd back in the 1950s.  David was born 23rd August 1924 at Open Country, 8 Wahrooga Cres. in Murrumbeena, he was the youngest of three sons to Merric and Doris Lucy Eleanor Boyd, David Gough Boyd is a member of the famous artistic Boyd family.  His wife was Hermia Sappo Lloyd-Jones who was born in Sydney, New South Wales in 1931 to Herman (Jonah) and Erica Lloyd Jones.  Herman was a Commercial Artist, Cartoonist and Illustrator. 

Like many successful artists of the period, Hermia first studied at the East Sydney Technical School.  She was there studying sculpture with Lyndon Dadswell between 1945 and 1947, the same time as Guy Boyd.  David was working with Guy (see Guy Boyd post) at Norma’s place in 1947.   Dadswell, unlike the Boyds, had actually seen action in Syria and been badly wounded.  He then became a war artist before later resigning his commission to become a teacher.  He was also one of the best sculptors working in Australia at the time.

David and Hermia married in 1948 and had three children; Amanda, Lucinda and Cassandra.  The couple set up a pottery in a shed in Paddington and with the help of Tom Sanders began producing their “Hermia Ware”.  Much has been written about them and many chronologies exists of theirs and various Boyd family members lives and works so it is difficult to find anything new to say, so here goes.

One website says ”The young Boyd studied painting and pottery – the two areas of art for which his is best known - as well as the piano, from his family. At the age of 17, he attended the Melba Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne for further piano.  However, in 1942, once he turned 18, Boyd was conscripted into the Australian army and was forced to give up his studies. After his discharge from the army in 1944, Boyd received an ex-serviceman’s grant to study piano at the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music. Boyd, however, found study difficult, struggling with the formal methods of learning, and possibly still suffering from the distressing effect of war.” 

Interesting, because he never went to war.  Like his brother Guy, he worked as a draughtsman, never got past Queensland and was discharged early because the Army believed that he had a “Psychopathic personality”.  The Army also described his brother Guy as being of poor general intelligence.  Allegedly the Australian Army was not prepared to accept these two Boyd’s “eccentricities” as readily as the Australian artistic community has.   So drones, when you copy stuff of other people’s websites, at least do a modicum of research.  Also, when considering the Boyd aversion to conflict, remember that their father volunteered to serve in World War One.

Like George Bush Jnr, did they (also allegedly) lack the abilities to do anything except go into the family business.  Look up their records on the National archives website, but don’t imagine that David’s type of psychosis is anything like you see portrayed on the crime shows on tele.  That’s’s journalism 101 folks, don’t make a statement, just ask the question.  The art establishment has always been ambivalent to David.  Described as “highly individual and difficult to teach”, is this the art world’s equivalent of “First Home Buyers Opportunity.”

Hermia died 25th January 2000, David Boyd died aged 87 on November 10 2011.   from complications arising from a bout of pneumonia in hospital in Sydney, New South Wales.  Hermia was a strong, talented and independent woman who deserves to be better known than just “and Hermia”.  Much of their early output was pottery with David later returning to painting.  These ramekins are of the typical primitive almost naïve style that I would describe as characterizing their work.  If you look at the Hanstan blog, notice the similarity, except Hanstan is much, much better, but made much later.

They stopped making ceramics in 1967 to concentrate on sculpture and painting, although he had begun to paint seriously in 1957.  These stoneware ramekins were probably made in the late 1950s after their return from England.   Their sell-out exhibitions were something different in the then very thin cultural fabric of 1950s Melbourne.  In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.  The colouring is interesting because David was quite obsessed with the use of Sfumato around this time and a smoky effect pervades their work.   The design on these ramekins is similar to some of the early 1940s paintings of his father Merric.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

T G Green & Co Ltd


Not Australian , but if it wasn't for Australian money back in the gold rush days, they may not have been made.  More accurately described as a single serve dish for butter or jam, these small ramekins were made by the T. G. Green Potteries, located in the town of Church Gresley near Swadlincote, Derbyshire famous for its Cornishware and Domino brands.  They are stamped “Haddon Hall”, a medieval manor house and now home of the Manners family, the Dukes of Rutland. Bakewell, Derbyshire Peak District.  Formerly the home of the Vernons, it is located in the Peak District by the River Wye near Bakewell, Derbyshire. Minton and Johnson potteries also produced ranges named “Haddon Hall”. 

There were ten potteries were in operation in and around Church Gresley  in the 19th Century.  This pottery was originally set up by a Mr. Leedham in the 1790s and continued by William and Joseph Bourne, it was then bought by Henry Wileman in 1851. The pottery was then sold by Henry to Thomas Goodwin Green in 1864.
Thomas Goodwin Green had been a sucessful builder in Austraila but when he heard his childhood sweetheart was prepared to reconcider marrage he retuned to Britain and sucessfully pursued her.  Whilst on honeymoon in 1864 at Scarborough he met Henry Wileman the owner of a small pottery in the Derbyshire village of Church Gresley.  Mr Wileman was getting old and was looking to sell his pottery and retire.  Thomas used the money from the sale of his Australian business to purchase the pottery,

Church Gresley was named from 'Gresele', the original spelling of a grassy clearing on top of a hill, surrounded by forest, at the village's creation in 1086, not to be confused with the German company of Grizelle.  Church Gresley is a village and former civil parish in the South Derbyshire district of Derbyshire, England. The village is very close to the town of Swadlincote, and between Swadlincote and Castle Gresley. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 4,805. Church Gresley and Castle Gresley are both parts of the region known as Gresley.
Their pottery was located about 35 miles from Stoke on Trent, the centre of pottery making in the U.K.  The factory relied on self-sufficiency by employing an entire workforce to produce its own brick clay, extracting coal from its own land and operating a lime-kiln built to manufacture its own lime mortar.  As well as the labour employed in the milling of raw materials, craftsmen such as carpenters and blacksmiths were employed to help making stilts, glazes and kiln furniture.  As the business grew, Thomas formed a partnership with Henry William King and the company remained in the hands of the Green and King families until 1965.
 The pottery then went into administration.  They were bought out by a London based finacier in 1967 who sold it on the following year to Mr Pat H Freeman who continued to run the business producing its trade mark blue and white Cornishware.
Greens were later bought out by Mason, Cash & Co. who were established in 1901 by Thomas Cash who retained the 'Mason' name of the previous owner. The business was incorporated as Mason, Cash & Co. Ltd in 1941 and continued to produce its utilitarian wares throughout the Second World War. The share capital of the company was purchased by A. B. Merriam in 1973 and in February 1986 the company acquired Cauldon Potteries Ltd and the rights to the 'Royal Cauldon' name from T. Brown & Son Ltd. of the Ferrybridge Pottery at Knottingly, Yorkshire.
In 2001 the company purchased T. G. Green & Co. Ltd, but by 2004 it faced receivership and in April 2004 Mason Cash & Co. Ltd (including T. G. Green & Co. Ltd) were purchased by The Tabletop Company forming the ‘Tabletop Group’. Both Mason Cash and T. G. Green continued to operate under their own names within the Group.

James Farrell

Not known
James Farrell
Incised “James Farrell” to base
Slipware bowl with long tab handle curving upwards with rounded tip.  Harlequin interior.  Clear glaze to interior and exterior, foot unglazed.
Very Good
No number
Production Date
Probably late 1940s
Length (with handle)
E-Bay Feb 2012
Rameking Reference Number
JFA 001-003

These slipware ramekins are of a similar design to early June Dyson ramekins marked “Lorrant” that were made in the late 1940s.  There were so many small potteries around in those days and many only had a small output.  

Slipware is a decorative technique using slip, which is a liquid mixture of fine clay and water with a mayonnaise consistency.  Used in casting and decoration. the slip can be coloured with oxides or coloured clays and applied to the vessel by dipping or painting, or trailed on like icing on a cake.
These ramekins were made by Victorian artist James Farrell.  Like many artists of his day, James made ramekins to supplement his income from painting.  He was never a big seller (of either ramekins or paintings) and even today his paintings don’t go for that much.  His portrait style is derivative and his landscapes look like either backdrops for an architects plans or primative blobs.  Before you art-nazi’s get excited, at least have a look at them, they are really not that good.
Born in Wangaratta, Victoria on the 17th of August 1902, James Francis Farrell studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne (1929-1932), now The Victorian College of the Arts.   The opening passage in his book says; "For me, life began in 1929, the day I walked into the Drawing School at the Melbourne National Gallery...this, I said to myself, is where I belong."  James was a member of the Victorian Artist's Society and exhibited widely and is well represented in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.  One of his private teachers (1938) was Rupert Bunny. 
Over the course of his life, James held 15 one-man exhibitions.  He had served in the Australian Army during the Second World War with an anti-aircraft battery in Exmouth Western Australia where he developed a love of Australian landscape.  Not only was James a painter, he was also a ceramic artist and watercolourist.  In 1991 he initiated an acquisitive award for self-portraiture to increase the collection of the Castlemaine Art Gallery.  They now have five of his works.  The award is very popular.  James died at the age of 97 in 1999.  There is a self portrait of James, (oil on canvas 50 x 43 cm) painted in 1944 that forms part of the National Gallery collection in Canberra.
James wrote a book Gallery Days : James Farrell recalls His Student Days at Melbourne National Gallery and a War That changed Australia in 1939.  Farrell, James.  ISBN: 0867861371.  It contains pictures of many of his works.  My opinion is that he was a much better ceramist and portrait painter than he was at landscape and literature.  But that’s just me.

James Francis Farrell 1902-1999

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


For those who have looked at this post before, please note that the images have been deleted.  This is because it has been pointed out by a sharp eyed viewer that these were made by someone else.  I have now moved them to their correct post.  But I have left the information  about Essexware here for your information.

Well folks and followers, here it is, post number one hundred.  What better way to mark the occasion than by putting up a post about one of the great small potteries that have gone to God.  It is from that short-lived but fabulously collectable Essexware pottery from high in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.  This pottery was started by Gordon and Irene Dunstan in the late 1940s / early 1950s.

Gordon Beresford Dunstan was born in the Adelaide suburb of Thebarton in South Australia in 1901, the son of Anthony and Rosina.  He was not an English migrant as some sites would have you believe, although his ancestry was Cornish and his father had been a miner at the Moonta copper mines in South Australia.  Gordon obviously had an interest in all things military from a young age, as he became a Second Lieutenant in South Australia in the Cadet Corps in 1919.  On the 9th October 1939, Gordon put his age back four years to join the Australian Army.  He described himself as a Property and Store Manager and Paymaster, and single.  The Army was generally wise to these people and would usually put them into non-combat roles.  This is what happened to Gordon who became a supply officer.
Gordon’s next of kin was his brother, his father having died several years before.  He spent part of his service in England, attaining the rank of Major before being demobilized and discharged in early 1947, so if you read that Essexware started as early as 1945, not so.  Gordon had enlisted as a Private and quickly rose through the ranks.  Somewhere along the way he married.  Allegedly Essexware was named after Irene’s home county.  Gordon gave his address as Gladstone Road Leura when he enlisted in 1939.  His service record shows him leaving for England and his son Adrian being born there in 1940.  He must have been back living in Australia in the late 1940s because he and his wife Irene Joan Dunstan are on the Electoral Roll in Leura in 1949.  They are also there in 1954 and 1958.      

Around 1951 they began their pottery named “Crannagh” in Gladstone Road at Leura, a small town in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Named “Essexware” after Irene’s birthplace in England.  Essexware began to be advertised in Sydney, New South Wales by mid 1953.  Crannagh is a Baronetcy in County Kilkenny, Ireland. Essexware pottery grew and by the mid fifties was employing about ten to fifteen people.  Their last Advert in the Sydney papers was in 1954.  They must have been doing reasonably well because most of the smaller potteries of the day in Australia could not afford to advertise at all. 

Tragically, Essexware pottery along with over 130 other buildings in Leura were destroyed in the worst bushfires in years in late November / early December 1957.  The Blue Mountains are prone to fires; I know because I fought some in NSW back in the sixties.  Gordon and family are said to have gone to England after the fire, because he came back to Australia on the Arcadia in March 1958 with his wife Irene and children Anthony and Boris.
There is a reference to artist Tom Alban (Thomas William Frederick Stead Alban 3rd March 1887-1978) working there producing the popular Aboriginal designs of the time, but the Alban family website has Tom and his wife living in Leura in “straightened financial circumstances”, so he couldn’t have done too well, even though Australians now collect his work.  Tom was born in St Petersburg in Russia and, like Gordon, was a mature age officer during the Second World War.  He had been in the British army during the First World War before enlisting in Australia in 1921.  Tom arrived in Sydney as a crew-member on the ship “Euripides” on 23rd of October 1919.  He is described on the 1925 electoral roll as being an “Artist”. 

He was also in a supply role in the army, maybe he met Gordon then?  Tom married Christine Beatrice Paul in 1937.  They lived in Abbey Street Leura, the house not being one destroyed in the bushfires.  Tom had lived in Queensland and Victoria before moving to New South Wales.  Christine ended her days in a War Service Home.  Gordon died in March 1971 at Colchester, Essex, England. 

Image courtesy Jenni Kirby. Source http://alban-benbow.blogspot.com.au/
I am now not sure that these ramekins were made by Rudolph Planter who worked for Essexware.  The signature on the bottom appeared to be “Planter Australia” but turned out to be "Pravda".  The colour and pattern was, I thought pure Essexware.  Rudi is a bit of a mystery because he doesn’t appear on any Electoral Rolls or immigration records.  There is a Rudolph Planter, Teacher, appearing in Victoria in 1958, after the bushfires.    It may be that Rudi came to Australia from New Guinea after the First-World-War.  Many Germans who were former plantation owners, or Planters, came here in the early 1920s.  If you look them up on the National Archives, you could be forgiven for mistaking them as all being named Planter.  Who was Rudi really? 

Photo of Rudi from Essexware Musings.
Essexware produced mainly slipwares decorated mainly with faux Aboriginal motifs, like these ramekins.  Slipware is a decorative technique using slip, a liquid mixture of fine clay and water. The slip can be coloured with oxides or coloured clays and applied to the vessel by dipping or painting, or trailed on like icing on a cake.  This is what has been done to these ramekins and the design incised through the slip

Aboriginal people are very particular about designs, their jurisdiction and use in their works, but in the fifties, our potters were not.  These fake aboriginal designs were very popular with homemakers of the time and for about fifteen years they appeared everywhere.  This caused offence to the Aboriginal people who at the time did not have voice in national affairs.  Sometimes an Aboriginal artist must serve a long “apprenticeship” before they can even begin to paint.  Copyright was something they knew little of and protection of a design was unheard of and difficult to establish.  Now, Aboriginal people are concerned with the mass marketing of tourist kitsch by their own people.

There was an explosion in the use of these faux aboriginal motifs following the wildly successful royal tour in 1954 when these designs appeared everywhere.  The Rameking is old enough to remember this tour but not the decorations.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Japan (Ironstone)

For my blog post number 99, here is an example of what I would describe as the “missing link” of ramekins.  Probably some of the last of the handled ramekins coupled with the fluted exterior of the modern.  These are allegedly made from what is known today as Ironstone, although this is usually just used to describe a tough product.

A lot of people have ramekins that were made in Japan.  They began to arrive in Australia after the Trade Agreement between the two countries was signed on the 6th of July 1957. Australia thus became the first nation to trade with Japan after World War II.  Because of the standard of living in the respective countries at the time, trade was mostly one way for manufactured goods.  The signing of this agreement began a shift in Australia’s reliance on Great Britain, with Japan quickly becoming Australia’s most important trading partner. Initially, their ramekins were copies of existing Australian makers with a few decorative changes.  This was common practice for the times as many Australian makers copied other designs anyway.  Copyright compliance in Australia was viewed somewhat more flexibly than today.  Many  of the earlyJapanese copies were of Martin Boyd designs. 
It is sometimes difficult to trace the makers in Japan as they would make up western names to add to their wares.  Now, most marks have been washed off over the years.   Others simply had the word “Japan” stamped on the base, or “Made in Japan” moulded into the base.   These have neither but I believe them to be Japanese from the design and quality of manufacture.
Ironstone is a term that has often been misused, particularly in the late 1970s when these were made.  Most ramekins that are called “Ironstone” is actually stoneware, which is earthenware that has been fired to melt the silicates in the clay to make the pottery water-tight.  The term is used to make you think that what you have is tough and durable.  So, to sum up, ironstone is highly vitrified earthenware that is known to be sturdy and chip resistant.
Genuine ironstone (sometimes mistaken for meteorites)  is a type of stoneware that was made in England early in the 19th century by Staffordshire potters who wanted to develop a mass produced porcelain substitute.  Ironstone dinnerware is thicker and heavier than porcelain and was marketed as being hard and durable as iron but contained remarkably little iron.  Ironstone is actually a type of sedimentary rock that contains some iron compound from which iron can be extracted. 
Technically the clay body of ironstone is dense earthenware containing china stone.  China Stone is s a medium grained feldspar rich partially decomposed granite.  Its mineral content includes quartz, feldspar and mica.  Other minerals include kaolinite and fluorospar. It is found in one area of Cornwall and is the UK’s only indigenous source of feldspathic material currently being commercially extracted.  Other names include Cornish or Cornwall stone.
Identifying genuine Ironstone should be easy. Genuine Ironstone should be quite heavy and feel thick and solid. Genuine Ironstone can also be indentified by the colour which should be solid. If the colour is uneven, it is likely not genuine.
It became popular in the early 19th century when some Staffordshire potteries experimented with making an inexpensive, porcelain-like dinnerware that could be mass-marketed. Though often referred to as "semi-porcelain," ironstone is refined earthenware and not true porcelain.  Wedgewood manufactured a "stoneware" china in the 19th century, commonly used in their heavy-duty dinner services.  It is still used as a component in some ceramics.