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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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, June 9, 2015

Buchan, Portobello

Not known
Stamped “Buchan Portobello Scotland Finest Stoneware” in black ink to base around a printed Thistle mark.
Glazed Stoneware
Shallow harlequin matte glazed stoneware on inside and outside of bowl with long rounded handle moulded to top of outer rim and extending slightly upwards.
Flat unglazed foot.
Very good
Number 241 M3 in black ink to base
(241 is the model, M3 is the colour code)
Production Date
Width at rim
Width at Base
Length (with handle)
9 June 2015.
Rameking Reference Number
BUC 001-010

These ramekins are a plain version of the many hand-painted patterned ramekins produced by Buchan under either their own name, or as Thistleware.  Sometimes described as an Individual Open Soup Server, the painted ramekins are sold for a much higher price than these plain ones.  Some of these patterns were named Costa Brava, Peach and Riviera.

The range of wares made at Portobello, spanning over two hundred years, covered much of the ceramic spectrum. Activity was centred on several sites, clustered around the mouth of the Figgate Burn where it enters the Firth of Forth.  A number of well-known names emerged, of which two stand out; Thomas Rathbone, celebrated for his fine painted and printed earthenware, and Alexander Buchan, famed for his utilitarian stoneware. From the 1830s this latter class of ware had been produced by a succession of firms: Cornwall Brothers, Milne & Cornwall, Milne & Smith, Thomas & Robert Tough, Thomas Tough, Murray & Buchan, starting in 1867, and finally A. W. Buchan & Co (1878-1972).

In 1867 Alexander Buchan and Thomas Murray bought the pottery of Thomas and Robert Tough & Company in Portobello, Edinburgh.  Portobello was one of the main centres of pottery and ceramic production in Scotland, dating back to the 1770s.

The Thistle Pottery, established around 1770, was taken over by the Buchan family in 1867.  They produced decorated and buff-glaze stoneware, and, at the time of closure in 1972, probably constituted the last complete industrial pottery in Scotland.  The pottery was housed in late 18th-century premises, substantially rebuilt and extended after 1879, covering the area of an infilled 18th-century harbour site. They traded as Murray and Buchan, changing to A W Buchan & Co in 1882 when Murray dropped out of the partnership. They moved to larger premises in Crieff, Perthshire.

The rise of Alexander Buchan to the fore heralded a sixty-year period during which vast quantities of stoneware goods of all descriptions were manufactured. The firm was inventive too, securing a number of patents and registering several novel designs, and time was even found to dabble in the world of art pottery with their exotic but misnamed Portobello Faience.


W. A. Gray & Sons of the Midlothian Pottery, located nearby, produced almost identical stoneware, if not quite so extensive in its range. They were famed for their patented white marmalade jars. Meanwhile, at their other site, production was continued by a number of close Buchan family members until this phase came to an end at the time of the Second World War, dictated by a variety of changing circumstances. However, being one of the few Scottish potteries to have survived the Depression, A.W Buchan & Co was not about to slide into closure. Instead, the manufacture of utilitarian stoneware was all but given up and replaced with a product of quite different decorative stoneware.

In the early days the bread-and-butter lines were stoneware storage vessels and stylish containers of various kinds. It was not until the end of the nineteenth century that decorative domestic wares were produced; slip decorated during the first half of the twentieth century and painted or printed in the second.

Initially of a single uniform colour, a range of multi- coloured patterns developed under the guidance of Eric McKinnon Buchan. About a dozen of these were given names, but the total number ran into three figures. Favourite above all proved to be the Thistle pattern (never officially named) comprising a semi-stylised grouping featuring a thistle, heather, and bluebells, all on a sky blue background. This was hugely popular both at home and overseas, and was in great demand from countries with large populations of expatriate Scots, which contributed to Buchan’s prosperity in the post-War period.

The goods were known as Thistle ware from 1946, the cleverly designed thistle trade-mark was registered in 1949, and the works were known as the Thistle Pottery from 1955 until its closure. When government economic policy brought about the demise of Buchan’s at Portobello in 1972, all seventeen girls in the decorating shop were painting the famous Thistle group.

Only the two bottle-shaped brick kilns, dating from 1906 and 1909 respectively, now survive. Portobello, amalgamated with Edinburgh in 1896, attracted some importance with the discovery of valuable clay deposits in 1765. The manufacturing of bricks, bottles and pottery became important industries until its last pottery closed in 1972

The mark used from 1949 onwards is a thistle design with the words BUCHAN Portobello Scotland in the thistle motif and FINEST STONEWARE beneath. The Portobello mark was still used after the move to Crieff. Other marks include 'Portovase' and 'Senolith' or 'Cenolith'.

Buchan ceased trading in 2000 but this was not the end of A.W. Buchan & Co, for it relocated to Crieff’; manufacture starting there even before it had ended at Portobello. It prospered, rather against the odds, still producing the Thistle and some other patterns until its sudden closure in 1999. Even then it was not totally finished, as a lone potter, Joe Hunter, and a single decorator, Karen Cramb, continue to keep the Buchan name alive. The famous Thistle mark has been re- registered, and Thistle ware, and some other lines, continues to be made.