Fascinated with beer mats
Article from Dublin Evening Press 1963
Example beer mat
There is nothing half-soaked about beer-mat collecting. It’s an interesting hobby and as presidents of the Beer Mat Collectors Society (oh yes, it’s come this far!), we would like to make it clear that the beer mat has now joined the matchbox label, beer bottle label, postage stamp, coin of the realm, bus ticket and cheese label, as a collector’s item.
With us, this hobby – respectably called tegestology – began as a joke, but we became so involved and inundated with beer mats of all kinds, that we genuinely began to take an interest in it.
Then, in 1960, we were invited to become Honorary Joint Presidents of the first Beer Mat Collectors’ society, and we gladly accepted.
The object of the society is simple – to keep all beer mat collectors well informed about new issues and to arrange, when possible, meetings among members to discuss and to exchange specimens.
We now have well over 1,000 different kinds of mats from all over the world. And it may interest you to know that in Australia, beer mats are called ‘coasters’, while in the trade they are referred to as ‘drip mats’. You now have our permission to call us Head Drips!
Seriously, what do collectors do with all their mats? Well, some of them keep them in boxes and others decorate the walls of their study's with them. We keep ours in two boxes – one in each home – and we call the boxes our tegestoriums.
Today, many breweries issue beer mats to advertise their various drinks. The advertisement usually takes up one side of the mat while on the other side are sketches, cartoons and slogans. There are many socially-conscious breweries who use their beer mats to urge: “If you drive, don’t drink. If you drink, don’t drive” or “Drivers – your car should be well oiled – not you.”
The Army have used beer mats to encourage more recruits, the Police to warn drivers of the dangers of drink and driving, theatres have used mats to publicise shows.
How did the hobby get its name? Well, teges is Latin for mat and we added the ology, because we liked pickled ologies on lamb sandwiches.
At home we have a complete wall covered with the brightest beer mats In our collection. And it has saved us money – there’s a big hole underneath.
We always insist that mats sent to us at home should be clean – unused. We have often been sent stained mats. It didn’t take us long to figure out why our postman was always hiccupping.
Just to prove that the study of beer mats can be very absorbing – oops, apologies for the pun – we recently discovered that as long ago as 1908 a beer mat was issued to commemorate the appearance of famous illusionist Chung Ling Soo at the Empire Theatre, Swindon.
Because of our interest in the theatre, we thought it would be an excellent idea if we could get one of these mats for our collection.
We advertised in a leading newspaper: “Chung Ling Soo (unstained) required. Morecambe and Wise.” But everyone thought this was a gag and we were unable to obtain a mat.
Some wag telephoned us and said he had one. We were delighted and asked him to drop it in the post to us and we would settle with him for his trouble. The mat never came. We reckon this fellow just wanted to know what it was all about.
So if you happen to find a Chung Ling Soo (unstained of course!) let us know. After all if you found a Penny Black postage stamp, you’d feel quite delighted. And a Chung Ling Soo is just as valuable to a beer mat collector as a Penny Black is to a philatelist.
© Dublin Evening Press 1963