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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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, March 19, 2012

Peter Fergusson

Designer Peter Fergusson
Maker Peter Fergusson
Peter Fergusson
Hand Made
Earthenware bowl, Off-white high gloss glaze to interior and top of exterior rim and underside of handle. Circular base also has glaze
Condition Good, some age related crazing to glaze on interior of bowl.

Production Date Early 1950s (1953-1954)
Width 90mm
Depth 30mm
Length (with handle) 125mm
Weight 105gm
Volume 115ml
Acquisition Mt Waverley Antique Market 19 March 2012
Rameking Reference Number PPF 001-005

I cannot find much about Peter. What I have found is that Peter Paul Fergusson was an artist and potter from New South Wales in Australia. In 1958 he was living in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby with wife Judith, also a potter and son Christpopher James. Their home is long gone at 27 Hunter Street and is now a large shopping centre. In 1968, Judith was living and working as a potter at 1a Clarke Road Waitara, just next door to Hornsby. Peter was born in Paris on 3rd September 1903 but is said to have been English and come to Australia before the second world war because Peter served in the Australian forces during the war.   He enlisted in May 1941 and was discharged in March 1944 with the rank of Captain, having served in an armored unit.
He was believed to be self taught and began making pottery in Sydney in 1946, firstly Ford says that he started in 1946 in Turramurra, now a well to do northern suburb of Sydney. Interestingly his son Christopher became an accountant and later returned to Turramurra. Ford says that Peter moved to Horsby in 1950. This is where these ramekins were made. It appears that Peter stopped making around 1956 and went on to painting. 

The only other piece of his work listed is a pin dish held by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. In 1953 and 1954, Peter advertised for staff to work at his pottery as glazers and dippers. Sydney in those days was home to numerous small potteries that operated for a short time then rocketed to obscurity. Newspaper articles in 1953 show his square shaped tea cups and saucers, check out the Essexware ramekins on my site and this may be where Gordon and Rudy got their idea from. 

 No other information on him is available, so if anyone knows more, please let me know.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Villeroy & Boch

Maker Villeroy and Boch
Marks Impressed “A” “VilleroyeBoch Made in Luxembourg”
Plain slipware bowl with flared lip flat unglazed base with notched edge. Plain harlequin gloss glaze to exterior with plain white gloss glazed interior. Stem handle attaced to lower third of bowl, angled upwards.
Condition Very Good
Number No number but capital “A” impressed on base
Production Date 1960s
Width 92mm
Depth 43mm
Length (with handle) 146mm
Weight 140gm
Volume 180ml
Acquisition 1 at Taupo in NZ, 3 at Oakleigh Charity shop
Rameking Reference Number VAB 001-004

In a way, Luxembourg is a bit like one of the characters from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy that never made it to the films. For those who may not have read the books, there is a character in them named Tom Bombadil. Tom is ancient and existed before the time of the rings who have no power over him. He exists in his own land while the affairs of men and history swirl around him. I think a lot of people may see the Duchy of Luxembourg in that light. It has existed long before most of its neighbours and for the most part has been able to avoid the vicissitudes of much of European history.

Because of its location, the Duchy of Luxembourg has been unable to completely avoid the tide of history, despite existing for around a thousand years. Banking, finance and insurance are now the main industries. The only thing that I can say with certainty is that on the day I was there a few years ago now, the country was closed. It was a Sunday and because Luxemburgers are mostly Roman Catholic, the old ways still endure. One of the old ways that sadly no longer endures is the Villaroy and Boch factory. They ceased production there in 2010 and now produce everything in Germany. There is still a factory outlet shop and education centre there.

Faiencerie Septfontaines
Visitor’s Centre
330, rue de Rollingergrund
L-1018 Luxembourg
Telephone: (352) 46821359
Fax: (352) 461553
Web Site: www.villeroy-boch.com/en/

In 1746 Jean Francois Boch, (1695-1754) the owner of an ironworks decided to branch out and began a tableware pottery , lead glazed earthenware, “Jean Francois Boch et Freres” with his three sons in Audun Le Tiche, Lorraine, France, near the German border. Nicholas Villeroy (1759-1843) founded an earthenware pottery in Vaudrevange, known today as Wallerfangen near Frauenberg ain Saarland Germany round 1785. Nicholas produced his wares under the direction of English potter John Leigh. Jean Francois Boch Jnr (1735-1817) learned transfer printing and other ceramic techniques in England. Jean Francois employed six of the local villagers as well and was later elected mayor.

Nicolas-Henri and Augustin Jacobi together with Joseph Fabry began a faience and majolica factory at Sarrguemines in 1790. Revolutionary troops destroyed it in 1794 but Pierre -Joseph Boch (1737-1818) rebuilt using borrowed money. Nicolas and Augustin sold their interest to Francois Paul Utzschneider. Paul had worked for Josiah Wedewood and was an excellent potter and capable businessman. He introduced English techniques to the works, hence the imitation jasper ware.

In 1798, Charles Regnier started the Longy Faience Factory in an old convent. In 1815 he sells to Jean-Antoine de Northomb and his wife Christine Boch, daughter of Pierre Joseph Boch. Pierre Joseph was married to Antoinette Northom, a Luxemburger.

In 1836 Baron Alexandre de Geiger, Paul's son in law took over management and a new company was formed between the Baron, Paul, Auguste Jaunez and Villeroy and Boch. This company is known as Utzschneider et Cie (and company). Jean francois leaves in 1841 to spend more time at the other works in Belgium and Luxembourg.

For years the two potteries competed in the same markets until the 14th of April 1836 when Eugene, son of Pierre Joseph Boch merged with Villeroy. Villeroy got 60%, Boch 40%. Even though both companies were doing well, the merger created a larger company that could compete with British Imports. Together their production quickly grew, in range quality and material.

They started a stoneware factory in Mettlach, Germany on the banks of the Saarschleiffe, the horseshoe bend of the Saar river, specializing in decorating beer steins. One process called chromolith produced in the late-19th and early-20th century involved inlaying colorful mosaic designs into the body of the steins. These are treasured by collectors today. They also later made ceramic sanitary ware. A marriage between Eugene Boch and Sophie Octavie Villeroy (1823-1899) on the 3rd of May 1842 helped seal the business union. Mettlach is located near the borders of France Luxembourg and Germany. Eugen later became Mayor of Mettlach.

Even though production was mainly from Vaudrevanges and Mettlach. They bought a porcelain factory at Tornai, that was kept until 1971. Unglazed stonewares began in 1842 emulating Wedgewood's Jasper ware with white figures on coloured background. They also bought Schramberg in 1883 and Steingutfabrik Torgau in 1926, Steingutfabrik und Kunsttopfrei Franz Ant. Mehlem, Bonn, Mosaikfabrik Deutsch-Lissa near Bresslau in 1920. These companies in Germany were managed from Dresden.

The name Mettlach is derived from Latin for "mid-lakes," Nicholas Villeroy and Eugene Boch, Grandson of Jean Francois joined forces and set up their stoneware factory in an abandoned Benedictine Abbey that had a tower completed in the year 1000. It was modeled after a cathedral built for Charlemagne in 786, and a representation of this edifice was later used on the company logo. After receiving a licence from the Empress of Austria in 1766, the Boch's began another factory in 1767 at Septfontaines, (seven fountaines) in the Duchy of Luxembourg where they continued production until 2010. Luxembourg was then part of the Austrian Netherlands.

The "Château de Septfontaines" dates from the 18th century and was the residence of the Boch brothers. The castle is situated in a park in the heart of the city of Luxembourg on the outstanding site of the Villeroy & Boch porcelain manufacturing plant, only a few minutes away from the city centre.

In 1795, the Chateau is taken over during the French Revolution. Pierre Joseph Boch and his family escaped. On their return, the Chateau needed extensive renovation. It is now the site of the Villeroy and Boch museum, although between 1914 and 1870, it was not in family hands.
Mettlach is most famous for its steins, and they made some of the most highly desired of these beer containers. But Mettlach also made a wide variety of other objects including vases, ewers, tazzas, tobacco jars, beakers, punch bowls, pokals (large ceremonial drinking vessels with lids), teapots, covered dishes, jardinieres, baskets, clock cases and ink stands.
Eugen (pronounced oygn) Boch, whose hobbies included archaeology, had the revolutionary idea of creating an industrially manufactured floor tiles based on Roman floor mosaics that were both attractive and offered good value for money. These became known as the “Mettlach tiles” and fragments of these tiles that accompanied the maiden voyage of the luxury ship “Titanic” were later rescued from the depths of the ocean. 

In 1892 Eugene was the first of the family were raised to the Prussian nobilility.  From then they were known as von Boch Galhau.  However it was the products sent to the World Exhibition, held in Antwerp in 1885, that gave us the works of art we know today. Production reduced considerably around 1912, due to recession in Europe. More problems followed the Treaty of Versailles in 1918 when the re-division of Europe meant that their factories were now in several different countries. Then in 1921 a disastrous fire destroyed all the moulds, manufacturing secrets and documentation of the Mettlach factory. Stein production restarted in the 1970's.

The golden age of production at Mettlach was at the turn of the twentieth century. During this time, using guarded secret techniques, the etched, glazed, cameo and phanolith (pâte-sur-pâte) wares were at the pinnacle of their production. Pâte-sur-pâte is an elaborate and expensive method of decorating porcelain in which a translucent cameo-like image is built up by the application of many thin coats of porcelaneous slip. Johann Baptist Stahl (1860-1932), celebrated for his cameo and phanolith stoneware models, was active at Mettlach during the period 1895 to 1920.

While the company is no longer run by a family member with the present Group Chairman of Villeroy & Boch being Frank Goering, there are however various family members presently working in the company. Since 1990 the company has been listed on the German stock market, ticker symbol VIB3, but the voting capital is still in the hands of the family descendants. The company's Luxembourg factory was closed down in 2010. Acquisitions in Eastern Europe have expanded their product range and market reach.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Harry & May Davis

Designer Harry and May Davis
Maker Harry and May Davis
Marks Stamped “P” inside “C” to base
Small wheel thrown clay bowl with pale brown glaze to interior of bowl. Flat circular base and slight indent to rim. Flat knife blade handle rising upwards and fixed to upper third of bowl
Condition Very Good

Production Date 1946-1968
Width 77mm
Depth 40mm
Length (with handle) 115mm
Weight 140gm
Volume 120ml
Acquisition Antiques Bazaar Prahran Victoria
Rameking Reference Number HMD 001-00

The Rameking has just returned from a Royal progress / Grand Tour of the North Island of New Zealand. In the language of the locals, “Choice Bro.” Don't laugh, but Harry first learned throwing pottery from Mr Bean. Enough of the levity. You can find heaps about the Davis' on the Internet, particularly at;

Every so often, someone comes along that is head and shoulders above just about everyone else in their chosen profession or craft. Such a person was Harry Clemens Davis (1907-1986). Not to be confused with the more famous and exceptionally collectable Harry Davis from Royal Worcester, Harry was blessed with seemingly boundless energy, a ferocious intellect and prodigious talent, Harry flew through life like a shooting star, amazing just about everyone who saw him work. These ramekins do not really do justice to him as an example of his work. Made after his return from Africa from clay better suited to brickmaking, they are beautifully hand crafted and are a precursor to the one by Peter Stichbury who later worked with Michael Cardew in Africa that is on display at Te Papa Museum in Wellington. They only have one, the Rameking has this set of four.

Rameking Rule. Don't just collect the man, collect from the man who learned from the master. Old proverb, Nothing is taught, everything is learned. What follows is just a brief outline of the life and work of a couple to whom no brief outline can do justice. I would love to put much more in about them but I will leave it up to you to chase up more.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the standard and quality of production of English pottery was at its height. Into this world came young Harry Clemens Davis, firstly at Poole Pottery, in Dorset originally “Carters Industrial Tile Manufactory”. Poole just outside Bournemouth is relatively near to Harry's birthplace of Glamorgan in Wales. Harry was the son of Harry James Davis, a typewriter salesman and his wife Annie Marie Davis.  Jesse Carter, the founder of Poole, Harold and Phoebie Stabler, together with John and Truda Adams began producing the well known popular and highly collectible art deco art pottery there in 1921. The thirties were the heyday of Poole. Into this environment came enthusiastic young Harry Davis. He learned much from Poole, particularly the Stablers who had long experience in most facets of pottery and its decoration. He also worked at the Broadstone Potters, a short lived company (1928-1934) who produced a range called “Joyous”. Harry was a decorator and all round general hand..

After learning quickly, Harry moved on to work with Bernard Leach in 1933 at the Leach Pottery in the Cornish town of St Ives, that still operates today. (Both the pottery and the town). Bernard is considered to be the doyen of studio art pottery, although it is unlikely that he was at the pottery during Harry's time there as Bernard was touring Europe at the time and Harry was running the pottery. It was at the Leach Pottery that Harry met May Scott, a student. They married in 1938 on his returning to England after moving to the Achimota School, where in 1937 Harry had taken a position as Head of the Art School. Founded in 1924 it was formerly Prince of Wales College and still operates in Accra, Ghana.

Harry remained there, separated from May until 1942 when Michael Cardew replaced him as Head of the Art Department. May had moved to Peru and Hary went there briefly until philosophical differences with the group May was with led to their return to Cornwall. It was during Michael's tenure in Africa that Peter Stichbury went to Africa to learn local techniques. When the war finished, Harry and May bought an ancient mill in the Cornish town of Praze an Beeble near Crowan, Cornwall, hence their stamp of the letter “P” inside the letter “C” for Crowan Pottery. Praze is the largest village in the parish.

For the next twenty years they ran the Crowan Pottery succesfully until Harry decided to move to New Zealand. Having survived World War II, Harry was fearful of a nuclear war and wanted to get as far away from it as possible. NZ was that place. Harry, May and their children arrived with fifteen tons of Luggage following by boat. He picked Nelson as the place to be because of its pottery industry and availability of raw materials needed to make pottery. He became a naturalized New Zealander shortly afterwards. They started a new pottery that they called “Crewenna”. St Crewenna's is the Parish Church in Crowan, Cornwall. Just as an aside, Cornwall is full of places names after saints that no-one else has ever heard of. Harry rigged up the waterwheel to generate the electricity needed to operate the pottery. He could turn his hand to just about anything.

Their daughter Nina graduated from Canterbury university and joined them at the pottery in Nelson. Having inherited her fathers inquiring mind, she went to England to work with Ray Finch (1914-2012) at Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire. She also went to South America to work with her parents. After her marriage in 1978, she and new husband moved back to New Zealand where they opened the Nina Davis Pottery at Hira near Nelson.

After a few years, Harry's itchy feet got the better of him and it was off to South America again. This time in 1972 to Izcuchaca in Peru. It was an aid project to set up an industry for the indigenous people in the high Andes. Harry traveled extensively on fund raising lecture tours in Australia and the United States. The project finished in 1979 and both Harry and May returned to Nelson in poor health. Harry died in 1986 and May died in 1995.