I am a bit of a Tegestologist. Some might call me a bit of something else, but that’s the name you give to people who like to collect beer mats or coasters. Tegestology, a term coined from the Latin word “teges” which refers to a mat, is defined as the practice of collecting beermats or coasters. You would actually be quite surprised to see how many of us are out there. It’s not the hardest thing to collect, as beer mats are after all very easy to get, they are free in bars and pubs all around the country. I am not an avid collector, as I really only collect when I see a really impressive beer mat, or want a nice memento when drinking abroad, but I have amassed just under 500 beer mats all the same. Not in Leo Pisker’s league though. The Austrian is listed in the “Guinness Book of Records” for having a collection of over 150,000 different beermats from across the world, including examples from over 160 countries. Bet he isn’t much of a drinker! Others that take it seriously are the many member associations including the British Beermat Collectors Society and the International Collectors Association based in Germany, also there are several books, guides and internet blogs dedicated to tegestology
The History bit
It all started in Germany way back in 1880’s. The first beermats made of cardboard were introduced by the German printing company, Friedrich Horn, as a way for drinkers to protect their precious ales from insects and other annoying debris. In 1892, Robert Sputh of Dresden manufactured the first beermat made of wood pulp. Overtime, and with the help of mass printing techniques, beer mats were produced on a huge scale, and in colour, making them very attractive to marketing executives looking to advertise beer to a targeted consumer directly in the pubs. Traditionally beer mats advertised just alcohol but nowadays beer mats can advertise pretty much anything from sports, businesses or special events.
Today, Coaster Factory and Canada Coaster, based in North America, and The Katz Group, based in Weisenbach, Germany, produce approximately 75% of the estimated 5.5 billion beermats in the world, including about two-thirds of the European market and 97% of the US market. That’s a lot of beer mats, and, with the explosion in craft brewing, expect to see coasters continue to be popular for both brewery and collector alike.
A beer mat has a few important functions. First and foremost it should protect the surface of a table or any other surface where the user might place their beverage. A beer mat has good water absorbency, good for soaking up the foam dripping down the sides of your beer.
Other functions can include putting the beer mat on top of your class before heading to the toilet to ward off any eager bar staff that might collect your pint (always annoying), useful for scribbling down the phone number and address of a nice woman you might have met (or at least before the advent of smart mobiles, but I still have a shitty Nokia so….), or for playing with if the conversation has gone dead (who hasn’t tried beer mat earrings?).
If you think it’s all getting a bit silly and a bit nerdy just remember that on Ebay recently an old beer coaster went for nearly $1,500. So it might be worth just clearing out the old cupboard to see if you have an old beer mat from when you first went to Spain back in the early 80s or something…..
Please have a look at my collection
The Mick McCarthy collection with Harp Lager. On the high of Italia 1990 Mick became a bit of an unlikely pin up in Ireland. I still have a paper where he has a two page spread showing off the Penny’s (Primark in the UK) summer collection. Mad.
Teachers whisky looks classy and shows warmth, very enticing.
Guinness, tops at marketing, always have a few great beer mats on view.