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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Remued / Keryl A1

Reg Hawkins
Allan James / Keryl (at Oakover Road)
Incised “A1” to base
Wheel thrown clay 
Clear glazed bowl with spoon handle attached to outside top of rim.  Cream glaze to exterior and handle, speckled harlequin glaze to interior.  Flat circular foot ring.
Very good
Incised “A1” to base
Production Date
Early 1950s
Width at rim
Width at Base
Length (with handle)
Tyabb Antiques
2nd March 2014
Rameking Reference Number
REM A1 001-004

These small ramekins were made by Allan James.  That is about the only certainty.  The location of their manufacture is open to conjecture.  None of these A1 and A2 ramekins were marked as Remued although their design is in their shape books.  

Premier Pottery in Preston commenced in 1929 by friends David Dee (1877-1934) and Reg Hawkins (1894-1971). Both men had had much experience in pottery before beginning this small business, set up at 52 Oakover Road in Preston. Previously this site was used for curing bacon. This was a perfect location for opening a pottery as on the corner of Oakover and St. Georges road at that time, was a large clay pit, virtually next door to the pottery.

Premier Pottery Preston was a small undertaking, unusual in that it produced only art pottery, all of it hand-thrown. David Dee threw the pots, Reg Hawkins painted them, and David's son Walter Dee (1904-1987) did the glazing and firing.  Walter helped his father construct a coal-fired kiln out of second-hand bricks and also worked at the pottery glazing and firing. Dee was the thrower (the potter that made the actual items with the wheel) and Hawkins, an Englishman that had once lived with the Dee family in Box Hill, was the decorator. Walter worked as the glazier after learning glazing and kiln firing. 

Earlier, in 1912 David Dee had set up an insulator works but was soon working in various other potteries around Melbourne suggesting this business did not take off. When he co-founded Premier Pottery he was still working part time. Dee was very good at throwing and produced all the early pottery.  His work was mostly for commercial purposes and the few pieces on which he signed his own name were made for use of his own family.  Sadly Dee passed away in 1934, five years after Premier Pottery opened and was not present to see the future successes of the business.

Dee, along with his five brothers, was an apprentice at Campbell's pottery in Launceston, Tasmania, where he leant to use the potter's wheel.  His father Thomas was a friend and neighbour of John Campbell.  Hawkins grew up in Poole, England, and trained as a decorator of pottery before emigrating to Australia. Dee and Hawkins, seeing an opening in the market for decorative ware, established their own business at a time when a number of major potteries were closing due to the Great Depression.   Thomas and his other sons; David Henry, George Henry, John and Thomas Jnr all worked in the pottery trade around Melbourne.  They all lived together at 49 Victoria Street East Brunswick, just up the road from the pottery.

Premier's earlier work reflects the influence of English potteries, due to Hawkin's background and training, and utilized underglazes and coloured glazes imported from Britain. However Premier's soon developed a style that was distinct, and by the 1930s became a highly established and successful business. Throughout this period Premier was characterized by experimentation in glaze techniques and surface treatment, along with the incorporating of Australian motifs into their designs.

The products of Premier Pottery Preston were not mass-produced. Everything was hand-made.  In such an environment, inevitably pieces were produced that were not intended for the retail market but were family gifts, experiments, or simply giving rein to the potter's creative spirit. Although perhaps not strictly 'Remued' many such pieces are nowadays amongst the most interesting and sought-after.

They are often incised with the potter's name or initials. Quite a few are signed by the principal throwers at Premier, David Dee and Allan James (1914-1979).  Others were involved too; industry potters, sometimes moonlighting from jobs at bigger potteries; and studio potters, notably Margaret Kerr, (1898-1958) Una Deerbon (1882-1972) and John Castle-Harris (1893-1967).

In 1934, they added a smaller kiln to the set-up, which included throwing and drying rooms and a storeroom for goods ready for distribution by F.R. Barlow and Sons in the city and the Primrose Pottery Shop (which was upstairs, in a building behind Bunnings on Little Collins Street) listing wares by various makers priced from 6d in 1932 and 1/6 in 1936. Edith MacMillan commissioned works for sale in her shop - just some of the domestic wares the pottery produced for her (See Primrose Pottery).

But the person who made the Remued pots so distinctive was Margaret Kerr, who modelled the gumnuts, gum leaves, berries and branches that were applied to the wheel-thrown forms. Catherine Webb, great-granddaughter of David Dee, writes: "It is possible that it was her idea to begin using Australian imagery. Unpaid, Kerr would go to the pottery to work on her own pieces, modelling animals and so on, which the pottery would then fire and glaze for her; some of Kerr's images were then incorporated into the work of the pottery. There is no evidence of this being other than a mutually beneficial relationship: no tension emerged over ownership of the designs."

Kerr was the daughter of painter Alexander Kerr and had learnt pottery from Merric Boyd (1888-1959); his influence at Premier Pottery was enormous.  Kerr also studied sculpture at the Working Man's College (now RMIT) and taught clay modelling at Brunswick Technical School.  The confidence and exuberance of her forms suggest a passionate personality

Pottery produced at Premier Pottery Preston is better known as the Remued range. The main characteristic of these pieces is the drip glaze style. Before Premier Pottery produced the Remued range they branded their pieces as PPP or Pamela. The name ‘Remued’ comes from Reg Hawkins’ second wife.  Nonie Deumer was her maiden name, which spelt backwards is Remued. She became an investor in the company after David Dee’s death.
Reg Hawkins had sole control of the company after Dee’s death and that generated much ill-will between him and Dee’s widow. This ended up being quite a difficult time for Premier Pottery as she then refused Hawkins access to Dee’s glaze recipe book containing much of the company’s trademark styles. Hawkins offered £100 to resolve the issue but was refused by Mrs. Dee. Eventually Walter Dee’s own glazes worked their way into the Remued range and the company continued to succeed. 

The continuous success of Premier Pottery was also because, two years before Dee’s death, a 17-18 year old Alan James was riding his bicycle down Oakover road when Reg Hawkins offered him a job.  Alan accepted and became an apprentice thrower working under David Dee.  Alan picked up the skill easily and was faster and better than anyone else in the company.  He enjoyed his work and would practice at every opportunity.  Alan’s skill and speed resulted in Premier Pottery becoming the leading business in its field as it was able to produce much more than the competition with little resources.

After Dee’s death, Alan was the only thrower and was responsible for all pot shapes from then on. He was also skilful with decorating pieces after having taken classes with Margaret Kerr.  As Alan James took over the decorating the style changed slightly and became more intricate, for example single veined gumleaves can be seen in earlier work but in James’ work the leaves were multi-veined. 

Margaret Kerr began working at the Premier Pottery from the early thirties, having worked previously as a clay modelling instructor.  She was responsible for a lot of the Australian floral and fauna decoration on the Remued range and may have even made the moulds of gumleaves, gumnuts and koalas that appeared often as decoration on the various pieces.  She was a talented artist though she only exhibited her own work during her student years in the mid 20s.  Originally Kerr would visit the pottery to work on her own pieces which the pottery would fire and glaze for her, and in return she would contribute to the decoration of the pieces being made.  Margaret Kerr’s decoration was another contributing factor to the ongoing success of Premier Pottery up until World War II, when she retired.

Alan James was the only worker to remain at the pottery during World War II. The only reason the pottery was able to remain operational was because the government had contracted the pottery to produce acid stoneware jars and white army crockery. Making any decorative pieces was forbidden at the time because of wartime restrictions.

The potter responsible for most Remued production was Allan James who had originally been taught throwing by David Dee.  In 1951-52 he set up a second small pottery operation using an electric kiln, not at Oakover Road but in the backyard of his home at 16 Esther St, Preston.  It may be speculated that he was preparing to abandon Premier Pottery, which probably would have meant the end of Premier because the pottery revolved around him.  Whatever transpired it is known that, about that time, his position at Premier changed from being an employee in a firm owned by Reg Hawkins to being a co-owner.  Alan continued to work by day at Premier and worked evenings at home as well.

The 'backyard' product, not surprisingly, bore a close similarity in style to contemporary Remued production from Oakover Road.  A new numbering series was instigated, the 'A' Series, marketed alongside the Later Series through the same agents. Like the Later Series the 'A' Series started at number 1 but was distinguished by the prefix letter 'A'.  Initially 'A' Series shapes were nearly all new, not repeating previous shapes. They included that favourite of 1950s potters, ramekins (numbered A1 & A2) plus lamp bases, dishes and vases.

Despite Premier Pottery in Preston producing large quantities of ceramic work, they maintained a studio, or handmade approach to their product. The people involved had, with few exceptions, trained in large commercial potteries but saw value in creating pottery by using the potter's wheel without the use of plaster moulds except for decoration. This is significant for the time, as the studio potters were developing sound markets, but were essentially working on a very small scale. There were also many large scale commercial potteries in existence but these tended to make thrown pots or household items as a sideline to industrial or builders' supplies. The Premier Pottery ran for nearly thirty years, filling the space between the studio potters and the factories in a depressed and competitive market.

In 1946 Premier Pottery was back to the level of production it was at before the war but strong competition arose from cheap Japanese imported goods, hindering the success of Premier Pottery. This trend continued, ultimately forcing them to close their doors for good in 1956.

Premier Pottery Preston finally ceased production following, in part difficulties over the lease of the premises.  Factors such as management and rental disputes, changes in the market place, and a decrease in sales, eventually led to their closure.

Despite having a studio atmosphere, Premier Pottery Preston was not a relaxed workplace; the pressure was on. Incising signatures and shape numbers was commonly done late in the day, by anyone available, and mistakes happened. Such mistakes present a problem for cataloguing.  An unexpected or anomalous number cannot necessarily be dismissed as a 'mistake', and while some shapes are sufficiently plentiful and well-documented that a mistaken example can be confidently recognized, is not always the case.

 Allan James then went on to establish Kerryl Pottery in the nearby Melbourne suburb of Reservoir, at 53 Banbury Rd, and transferred production of 'A' Series items there. Reg Hawkins did not join him.  The series was extended with new shapes and new styles of glazing reflecting changing fashions.  Slip-casting was introduced for some designs, replicating popular pieces from other potteries including Beswick, Shorter & Son and E.G.Greenway.  Many familiar shapes from the Later Series also made a re-appearance in the Kerryl range, particularly after about number A88.  The name may be derived from Margot Kerr who worked at Remued from the early 1930s and was responsible for introducing the now highly collectable gumleaf/gumnut design, although it is believed that it was named for Kerry, the son of Allan and Myrtle James.

Premier Pottery Preston is considered a high point in the history of Australian decorative pottery and pieces are sought and displayed by leading museums such as the National Gallery of Victoria.
There was an exhibition of Remued and Preston Premier pottery held at Bundoora Homestead in 2005.

Compiled from
Darebin Libraries
Powerhouse Museum 
Penny Webb “Gumnuts and Glazes”