The first beer mats, or coasters, as they are mostly known in the US and Australia, appeared around the year 1880, made of cardboard. They were used primarily to protect surfaces such as tables from wet marks. Not only this, they were meant to be thrown away after use. Subsequently, Robert Sputh of Germany patented the first wood pulp drip mat in 1892. While used in the rest of Europe from that time, they didn’t come into use in the UK until the Twenties.
Coloured and attractive beer mats
From somewhat primitive examples, coloured and attractive beer mats as we know them today began to appear. Indeed, they not only promote beers, but may also advertise the names of airlines, pubs, breweries and even sporting events. Another use is to cover open glasses to prevent insects flying in, especially in hot countries. Pubs use a larger cloth or towel to protect their counter tops, but also to absorb spills and condensation.
Early coasters were in common use at the dinner table towards the end of the eighteenth century. Thus, bottles and decanters could be passed around without damaging the table surface.
Mass production of beer mats
Recently, with the improvement of technology, printed advertising beer mats can be produced in large quantities. For example, for use at wedding receptions. Since the growth of beer mat collecting became popular, moreover, the mats can be exchanged with other collectors. Needless to say, there are also large quantities of attractive collections available online at reasonable prices.
The Guiness Book of Records
Leo Pisker of Austria appears in the Guiness Book of Records as having the largest collection in the world. At the time of writing, he has 152,860 mats from 192 countries.
Tegestology is the correct terminology for the collection of beer mats.