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Protecting wood tables from overflowing foam, drinks coasters are also an effective method for absorbing the condensation dripping down the sides of your beer stein. During the warm seasons and in hotter climates, coasters were originally just cut pieces of fabric material used to keep dirt and insects out of your cup.
The first custom coaster was a carboard punch-out manufactured by the printing company Friedrich Horn of Buckau Germany, producing a variety of illustrations, jokes and phrases printed on them. By 1892-3, the first wood pulp-board variety that we’re all familiar with today was first patented in Dresden Germany. Soon enough breweries started imprinting their own custom brand logos and personalized messages making them a great vehicle to advertise directly to consumers. By the early 1900’s, they began appearing in English pubs where they are more commonly known as “beer mats” or "drip mats", however in most countries they’re known simply as the beer coaster.
The art of collecting beer is referred to as “tegestology”. This 'absorbing' subject matter is serious stuff for some! Typically collectors will concentrate on specific criteria such as social or historical significance. The value of vintage coasters may be determined by several criteria including their physical condition, the type of design, and of course the engineering process used in their production at that time. There are also several books and guides including many Internet sources dedicated to the tegestologist. Notable member associations include the British Beermat Collectors Society, the International Collectors Association based in Germany and not one but TWO based in Australia.
Whether you’re just a casual beverage coaster collector or a more serious tegestologist, the popularity of the beer mat is so much more than a drinks coaster, it's a little piece of brand and advertising history that anyone can own. Coasters are everywhere. At pubs, restaurants, weddings, parties, festivals, hotels… from the local brewery to your local antique shop. It was once reported that a single vintage drink coaster sold on eBay for nearly $1,500.
Today there are literally billions of drink coasters manufactured each year. Next to the billboard, coasters are probably one of the oldest traditional forms of advertising communication. Of course like billboards, not all drinks coasters are used for advertising products and services— non-profit groups often use them for public service announcements and government agencies also use them to communicate with the public.
Fun Trivia: In a Czech beer house, the bartender will refill your glass every time you empty it until you place your beer coaster on top of your glass, signaling that you have had enough.
For more fascinating history of the Beer Coaster, visit Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverage_coaster