Yep, it’s a thing – collecting drink coasters.
And you don’t have to visit a bar or restaurant to find them. Known as beer mats, drink coasters, and bierdeckel, drink coasters have found their way out of man caves and into the mainstream.
These small pieces of art and branding history started out as humble pieces of felt. Over the decades, they’ve evolved into fanciful testaments to beer, bars, and all things drinking, from all over the world.
If you’re interested in bar ephemera, collect coasters or know someone who does, we hope you’ll find this post fun and useful.
Beer coasters as political commentary
Drink coasters can be made from wood, cardboard, glass, ceramic, cork, leather, and glass and are practically limitless in size, shape, and design. They are still used for advertising products and events. But did you know they’re also used for social commentary?
- The Washington City Paper noted in 2017 that the watering hole Off The Record, found in the famous Hay Adams Hotel, produced a line of drink coasters featuring caricatured versions of Kim Jong-un, Angela Merkel, and Vladimir Putin.
- One Canadian bar used coasters made of metal from cars that were wrecked in drunk-driving accidents to promote their campaign against impaired driving.
A brief history of the sometimes stinky Bierdeckel
You may not realize it, but there’s a lot of history behind that piece of pressed paper slapped underneath your drink.
Bierdeckel was the first version of a beer coaster. It was invented in Germany in the 1880s as a cheap way to protect beer from dirt and insects that often drifted into drinks consumed in outdoor beer gardens.
Wealthy Germans could afford tankards with lids (called krugs) to keep the bad stuff out. But the poorer classes couldn’t, and were stuck covering their mugs with small, reusable pieces of felt. Over time, the reused felt became unsanitary and started to smell. Definitely not a good thing when you were trying to enjoy a much-anticipated pint or two after work.
From smelly feet to decorative cardboard
Early cardboard coasters were produced by The Freidrich Horn Company in the late 1800s. Over time, they changed from a plain, unprinted mat to colorful, artistic ones that featured jokes, catchphrases, and illustrations.
Today 75 percent of the world’s drink coasters (and 95 percent of the total in America) are made by The Katz Group, in Germany’s Black Forest Region.
- The Katz Group, which dates back to 1716, produced its first beer mat in 1903.
- The company uses trees from surrounding forests to produce five million to seven million coasters a day.
- Beer drinkers go through billions of coasters a year.
See the first Katz beer mats and the machines that produced them here.
Using UniKeep to organize a beer coaster collection
If you’re a coaster collector, and you’re stuck figuring out how to organize them, try the new UniKeep Coaster Collection Binder.
This case enclosed, three-ring binder snaps closed so you won’t have to worry about losing your coasters. Your collection is stored in one place, so you don’t have to keep searching all over for a particular coaster.
- The included page protectors have pockets that are sized just right to protect coasters from moisture and the elements.
- You can easily locate and identify your coasters, and show them off to friends and family.
- Archival quality protective pages will keep your collection in great shape for years to come.
The UniKeep Drink Coaster Collection Binder includes:
- Digitally printed, 1 ½” case binder with metal rings
- The enclosed case features bright, iconic coaster artwork
- Case contains 15 archival-quality page protectors
- Your choice of two designs – iconic coasters or wood
If you’re crazy for beer coasters or know someone who is, this UniKeep Coaster Collection binder is a must-have organizational tool. Plus, it’s just fun to keep them in a proper place so you can think about all the places you visited as you collected them.
And if your search for the perfect drink coaster leads you to consume a few too many beverages along the way, remember these cautionary words. Enjoy and happy collecting!
If you have a creative project or hobby, look to UniKeep for an extra creative edge or organization solution. Our binders and products are available in a full line of styles and sizes, for everything from photos, crafts, video games, and recipes to wallets for CDs and DVDs
www.unikeep.com Call 800-829-8117