Tegestology- the collecting of beermats. Sneakily contrived from ‘etymology’ and intermingled with the Latin word ‘teges’ meaning small rugs or mats. Thats right people. Its a ‘thing’.
Beer mat collectors can therefore huddle together under the decidedly academic-sounding moniker: TEGESTOLOGISTS.
Cardboard beermats first saw production by the German company Friedrich Horn in the 1880′s and then appeared in the UK in the 1920′s, apparently first championed by the London based brewery Watneys. Just 40 years later an understandably enamoured English collector Charles Walsh saw fit to establish the British Beermat Collectors Society. Distinguished societies of this period naturally necessitate presidents and of all people to crop up in the timeline of this obscure little hobby, guess who the first presidents of the British Beermat Collectors Society were? Legendary comedy duo Eric MORECAMBE & Ernie WISE. (for all non-uk readers these pair were a phenomenal success in England and an undeniable household name) From such illustrious beginnings, is it any wonder that the BBCS listed a whopping 28,000 UK beermats in the 2009 edition of their UK Brewery Catalogue?
In 1963 Eric & Ernie were interviewed about their new appointment by the Dublin Evening Press. Whilst they were keen to emphasise that initially their involvement was a bit of a joke they admitted that after being briefly immersed in the ‘tegestive’ world they, “genuinely began to take an interest in it,” even keeping their not-to-be-sneezed-at 1000-mat-strong personal collections in self-dubbed ‘tegestoriums’ in their homes. Amongst Tegestologists there exists a variety of opinions on the correct way to store or display your collection, some preferring to enjoy them as art on the wall, others wanting to protect them in customised boxes a la Eric & Ernie.
Whilst Tegestology is a highly specific field, there are many facets of alcohol and bar related collecting. Ebay has a vast section of its collectible division reserved for ‘breweriana’ – including tin signs, bottles, tap handles, trays, bottle caps, clothing, towels, clocks & mirrors. Just as the pub is an intrinsically social environment, so breweriana can be an incredibly social hobby, with collectors visiting microbreweries to pick up a beer mat or discussing and collaborating with other collectors to exchange items online.
As a keen collector of various ephemera I am not immune to the lure of beer mats, so here are a few favorites from my own collection:
Beermats can be perfectly adapted to the pub environment they will enter. Obviously a beermat’s function is to advertise, and clearly one which invites written comments like this is certain to get people talking. Personally I prefer my beermats not to be in mint condition, as above, though many collectors would disagree.
Both back and front views are shown- some designers like to make use of both sides, placing the punchline on the back. For this reason, many collectors like to have two copies of each beermat so they can display both sides.
It’s really visually interesting when breweries choose unconventional shapes and cut-outs.
Released by Colorado-based New Belgium Brewery to coincide with their seasonal brew.
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