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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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, August 24, 2012

Campbell, John Campbell


Behind the atomic blast-proof doors; deep inside Rameking Mountain, under tonnes of reinforced concrete, the Ramekin Gnomes toil round the clock to preserve these fast disappearing parts of our history in the secret archives of the Rameking.  The Gnomes are the best of their kind and love their work, but sometimes, very, very rarely, something breaks.  When this happens, these Gnomes take the disaster personally, because every time something breaks, the Ramekin Gnomes cry.  To them a ramekin is like one of their children, to be sheltered, nursed and nurtured.  Such a disaster happened recently and the Gnomes are still in mourning.  A John Campbell dish fell and was broken.  On the plus side, the Gnomes had photographed it before its demise.

Some of the champion team of Ramekin Gnomes under Rameking Mountain
Yes, I know that this was not, by my definition, a ramekin but where do you get a John Campbell bowl for five bucks these days.  It may have had a chip and a crack to one side but it was still a Campbell.  I would love to get some real Campbell ramekins but alas, they may be beyond the means or, so far, the abilities of the Rameking.  I was in Tasmania back in 2010 and despite searching, I found none; so if you have any, and are contemplating selling, please let me know and send me a price.


John Campbell was born on the 11th of November 1857 in Aukland New Zealand to John and Anne (McLean).  The family moved to Bendigo when John was ten years of age and at the age of twelve he became an apprentice at the Bendigo Pottery.

The Bendigo Pottery was started by George Duncan Guthrie, a Scot who was an apprentice potter by the age of 12. He travelled to Australia in 1849 and while visiting his father who was living in Bendigo, noticed the fine white clay of the district. Guthrie transformed this lucky find into a business that grew to rival the great Staffordshire potteries of nineteenth century England.

At Bendigo pottery, John’s newly learned potters skills were rewarded by winning medals in the 1879-80 Melbourne Juvenile Intercolonial Exhibition for his exhibits - a stoneware fountain, a whisky still worm and two terracotta fire grate backs.
In 1880 he moved to Tasmania and in 1881 went into partnership with his future father in law, William Brown Jory in the firm Jory & Campbell Steam Brick Works at Glen Dhu, in the Sandhill area of Launceston near theMc Hugh pottery.  His purchase of approximately 18 acres was formerly Alfred Cornwell's Pottery at 89 Wellington Road and they changed the name to Victorian and Tasmanian Pottery and Pipe Works.  Today, the address is a car parts store.  In the 1891-2 Tasmanian Exhibition in their home town of Launceston, Campbell’s exhibited a range of pots and urns, vases, teapots, cheese dishes with covers, jars, bottles and Toby jugs.

John married Mary Jane Jory on the 9th of April 1884 at her family home “Kings Meadow” in Launceston, Tasmania.  They had eight children; Colin, who took over the firm after his fathers’ death in 1928; Alfred, Rupert, Florence; Rose, Eva and Arthur.  After Colin’s death in 1956 the business continued.  Campbell's Pottery remained in the family until it closed in 1959.  The pipe and brick manufacturing business closed in 1976.

In 1902 Campbell’s pottery became the first industry in Tasmania to use electricity.  They changed their business name from ‘Victorian and Tasmanian Pottery and Pipe Works’ to the undeniably zippier ‘Campbell’s Electric Pottery’. Embracing new technology, however, seems not to have become compulsory at Campbell’s, for as late as 1956 Colin Campbell was still making all the pipe and pottery deliveries in a horse and cart.

Pipe and brick manufacture was the largest part of the Campbell business, but John Campbell's own interest were the hand-thrown decorative items that they manufactured. 
Like McHugh’s, Campbell’s employed workers with experience in potteries on the mainland, such as Bendigo, Bennett’s and Cornwells.  Master craftsman like Denny Beckett were associated with both McHugh’s and Campbell’s.  There is also some evidence of John Campbell having regularly obtained specimens of the high-quality wares being produced at Bendigo Pottery in the mid-1880s from a contact employed there, in order to make moulds from them.


Geoff Ford believes many of the Australian bread plate designs can be traced to the influence of expert mould maker William Holford (1841-1938). Born and trained in England, Holford migrated to New Zealand in 1874 and then Australia in 1876. He worked in a number of potteries in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. His work is characterized by the use of a fern leaf motif, and a particular wheat-sheaf design, while the glazes reflect the characteristics of particular potteries.

Holford can be directly traced to the Alfred Cornwell Pottery in Victoria, and Cornwell originally set up the pottery in Launceston later owned by John Campbell.  There is a strong similarity between some of the bread plates made in these potteries. At a time when potteries made relatively few decorative art-wares, Ford suggests that bread plates provided a way for a mould-maker to demonstrate his skills in design and mould-making, and also a way for a pottery to demonstrate its skills in glazing and firing.
In the 1880s Launceston had become the focus of ceramic production, with the Tasmanian market dominated by the potteries of John Campbell (1881–1976) and James McHugh (1879–1961), which manufactured both industrial and finer domestic wares.
Although competition among Australian potteries was always very keen, and there are plenty of examples of price-cutting and ‘industrial espionage’ to be found in the record-books, Campbell’s and McHugh’s often worked together cooperatively to share the available work, equipment, and skilled workers to mutual advantage. A great-great granddaughter of John McHugh, Judith Beattie relates that when McHugh was found dead in his pottery works, John Campbell came over and helped keep the business running until the McHugh family could make other arrangements.

Although heavy clay products like pipe and bricks were the mainstay of the business, it was hand-thrown decorative pottery that fascinated John Campbell, who even in his old age spent late nights in his workshop experimenting with shapes and glazes.  The “Drip Glaze” method employed by companies such as McHugh, Campbell and Remeud is in the style of the Arts & Craft movement in Britain. In the UK this style of pottery had mostly died out by the late 1920’s, here in Australia it had a life that went on.  In the case of Remued, until 1956.   Premier Pottery in Melbourne, Victoria (later Remued) was established by David Dee and Reg Hawkins in 1929. Dee, along with his five brothers, was an apprentice at Campbell's pottery where he leant to use the potter's wheel.

John Campbell died in 1929 and the business was taken over by his eldest son, Colin who continued the business. Colin oversaw production of the 1930s art wares, and then later by other family members.  However by the late 1950s, pottery sales were declining due to overseas competition following the 1957 trade agreement with Japan, and input costs such as glazes were increasing and the pottery closed in 1959. 
Officially, Campbell’s artware department closed in 1947, although there is a classic ’thirties-style vase signed and dated 1949.  The factory doors closed for the last time in 1976.  Fear not though, because those massive doors of Rameking Mountain are still swinging wide and the Gnomes are ready and willing to accept more offerings for the Rameking.
This is what the real ones look like, so if you have any, I would like to take them off your hands for a reasonable price.



No comments:

Post a Comment