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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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


Friday, April 27, 2012

Royal Worcester


Royal Worcester
Stamped in gold to base – Royal Worcester Fireproof Made in England inside circle.  Shape 32 size 1 stamped under circle Number 1 impressed above circle
Soft paste porcelain, 22ct gold
Gilded bowl with white gloss glazed interior unglazed slightly indented base dimpled inwards from footring
Good, some wear to gilding
Shape 32, size 1
Production Date
Late 1960s –early 1970s
Width at rim
Width at base
Length (with handle)
Tyabb Antiques 26 Apr 2012
Rameking Reference Number
RWO 001-005

Originally sold in some markets as a cocotte, (one or two handled French cooking dish) these Royal Worcester Lustre Gold ramekins are press-moulded soft paste porcelain with 22 Carat gold applied to the exterior of the bowl.  They also produced a ribbed bowl they called a ramekin, so it is reasonable that these ramekins were named something else.   Gilding, as it is known, on pottery is a complex and difficult method to learn and can be done using several differing methods.  Several tonnes of gold are still used each year to gild ceramics.  It can be sprayed, brushed, screen-printed, acid etched or mixed with resin. 

Early methods at Worcester involved mixing the gold with mercury or honey giving the body a bright rich honey gold colour when fired at a relatively low temperature.  Ancient gilding on the wood of Egyptian mummy cases is still as bright as original. 

The method most commonly used is to mix gold powder and borax (borosilicate or a bismuth based flux).  The resulting powder is brushed onto the pottery with a very fine brush (usually camel hair).  When the mixture dries, because it is mixed with water, it is fired during which the borax is burnt off and the gold melts into the body.  The pottery comes out brown and must be burnished (polished) with a stone, usually agate to bring out the gold colour.  These ramekins were produced in plain and crazed gold.  Size 1 appears to be plain, size 3 appears to be crazed.

Situated on the river Severn, Worcester is the capital city of Worcestershire in England’s West Midlands.  With a population of almost 100,000 people, it is about 50km south-west of Bermingham.   In other posts, I have spoken about the loss of potteries as a result of Government policy and the consequential increase in imports.  In the case of Royal Worcester, had it not been for the collapse of the glove making industry in Worcester, then it is likely that Royal Worcester would not have come into existence.  Concerned at the loss of work for glove makers because of cheap imports from France, a number of local businessmen decided to create a pottery.

And so it was that in 1751, fifteen of them parted with £4,500 (for the Americans, that is British pounds, a type of money used in and around England) and leased “Warmstry House”, and fitted out the old mansion, still around today as part of Worcester College; and the company “The Worcester Tonquin Manufactory” was born on the bank of the Severn river.  (Tonquin is a floral pattern still in use today)  Leaders of the pack back in Worcestershire were Dr John Wall, local surgeon and William Davis, Apothecary (chemist).  Like most gentlemen of the day, they had little practical pottery skills so they had to do what businesses today still do; they bought in the skills.  Poaching a couple of potters with porcelain making skills, (Podmore and Lyes) from other factories with the promise of extra money and profit shares.

They started small and slow, making soft-paste soapstone porcelain, but within a year they started upping production.  One point of difference was that their stuff didn’t crack when boiling water was poured into cups.  Chinese porcelain didn’t but other English makers did.  Worcester porcelain in some cases was heavier than the competition but their designs and quality were better.  Another point of difference were the patterns and blue under the glaze that made Worcester distinct.

In the mid 1750s, they started using transfer prints, so innovation began early.  (Again, for the Americans, they are a type of Decal.)   By 1764 they were producing more transfer prints than all their competitors combined.  Their quality soon attracted moneyed buyers with the Duke of Gloucester being one of the first ordering a dinner service.  Royal Worcester got the contract to provide crockery to the English Royal Family. Today, these products on display in the museum on the site of the old Royal Worcester factory are worth huge amounts.  Because it is so collectible, it is often subject to forgery.  One test of genuine Worcester porcelain is to hold it up to a strong light.  You should see translucence with a slightly greenish tinge.

Dr John retired in 1774 but died in 1776 and without his leadership, things at the works began to go south.  The small factory was in need of repair and refurbishment.  Fortunately, in 1783 their London agent Thomas Flight paid £3,000 (to remind the Americans, that’s English money) for the company and set about improving it and turning it into one of Europe’s leading porcelain manufacturers.   The Flight family ran Worcester for the next fifty years.

After visiting the works, and being impressed with the standard of their output, King George III gave Worcester a Royal Warrant in 1789, entitling Worcester to become Royal Worcester.  Other Royal Warrants followed, the Prince of Wales in 1807, Princess of Wales in 1808 and by Queen Elizabeth II.  Martin Barr joined the firm as a partner in 1792.  Thomas Flight died in 1800, leaving the factory to his son Joseph Flight and Martin Barr.  Barr’s sons Martin Barr Jr. and George Barr had been trained to run the factory.

We know so much about Royal Worcester because in the 1850s, the then Managing Director and Art Director Richard William Binns, with an eye to posterity began an archive.  He was passionate about the history of porcelain and in the 1850s he started to collect not only ceramics, but also documentary evidence relating to the manufacture of porcelain in Worcester. He preserved a wide range of records relating to the factories, employees, general business and production methods as well as photographs, drawings and prints illustrating the finished products. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, he continued and expanded a detailed system for recording the thousands of porcelain designs for shapes and patterns made by the Royal Worcester factory under his direction

The name was changed to the Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd. 1862.  Royal Worcester is now over 250 years old and is one of the last bastions of 18th Century quality and craftsmanship.  They wear artistic freedom and traditional craftsmanship as a badge of honour, carrying on Dr Wall’s vision to “create wares of a form so precise as to be easily distinguishable”.  Now part of the Portmeirion Group, Royal Worcester remains a leader in the luxury tableware and giftware market.

Royal Worcester was the first company to introduce  oven-to-table ware to fine English porcelain after World War II, with which it achieved worldwide success.  They are still one of the largest makers of porcelain and bone china in England. 

The late 1970s was a difficult time because of overseas competition and in July 1976 they merged with another great British pottery, Spode to become “Royal Worcester Spode”.  Production was moved from Worcester to works in Stoke to reduce costs.   The company struggled on but redundancies in the noughties and rising costs meant the inevitable and they went into administration in November 2008 with with the company closing on the 14th of June 2009.  Works at Stoke, Lymdale and Worcester employing almost 400 people, closed. 

Receivers PriceWaterhouseCoopers sought a buyer and after a couple of hiccups, on the 23rd of April 2009, Portmerion bought the name and intellectual property rights for £3.2million.  The properties were sold to reduce debt.  Portmerion is based in Stoke on Trent  and is a pottery and homewares company started in 1960 by potter designer Susan Williams Ellis and her husband Euan Cooper Ellis.  Hers is a story in itself.

Henry Sandon

No-one these days can talk about Royal Worcester without mentioning the great Henry Sandon.  For those philistines who don’t know who he is, read on.  I think I should at this point say that the Rameking has a bit of a man-crush on Henry.  Henry is the world authority on Royal Worcester.  Henry was headed down the road to a musical career when he dug up some Roman pottery in his yard.  Even though music remains a passion, his world changed.

For those of you who may have seen him on the Antiques Roadshow, Henry, now in his 80s is a happy Hobbit of a man who was Curator of the Dyson Perrins Worcester Museum for 17 years from 1966.  Henry has infected his son John with the same disease.    John has been Curator of the European Ceramics and Glass at Bonhams, founded in 1793, it is the third largest auction house after Southeby’s and Christies.  Henry has written several books on pottery and also lectures on the subject.  So Henry, on the off chance  you ever Google youself and come across my humble offering, please feel free to add any furher details that you may think relevant.

Henry is not just one of those academic types who only preaches to the converted.  Not the retiring type, he put his money where his mouth is in 1996 to become a Director of Bronte Porcelain in the Meerbrook Business Park, Malvern, Worcestershire.  Former Royal Worcester craftsmen produce spectacularly beautiful products as well as special commissions.  Henry now has a Toby jug made in his image by Kevin Francis Ceramics of Liverpool Street, Stoke, Staffordshire.  What an honour, even though he received an MBE in 2009 for services to Broadcasting, the ceramics industry and Charity.  When Time Team are digging in a thousand years, it will be the Toby Jug that survives.

1 comment:

  1. i have a ramikin the 32 but it says size 2 on the bottom