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A beermat is a coaster used to rest glasses of beer (or other beverages) upon. Public houses in the United Kingdom usually will have them spread out across the tables. They are used not just to protect the surface of the table, but, as they are usually made out of paper, they can also be used to absorb spillages. Their main use, is as part of an alcohol advertising campaign.
Beermats are usually adorned with a customized image - usually advertising a brand of beer, although they can also be used to promote a drinking establishment, sports franchise, or special event. Recently, they have also been used to advertise political messages and parties, such as the UKIP beermats during the 2004 European Elections. Although they appear to be a disposable item, they are in fact quite durable and reusable.
Some beermats are collectible items. Collecting beermats is an especially popular hobby in Germany. There is an international collector's association called IBV in Germany since 1958. Tegestology is a latin term defined as the practice of collecting beermats or coasters, with practitioners known as tegestologists. Some of the more notable clubs associated with tegestology are the South Australian Coaster Collectors Club and New South Wales Coaster Collectors Club. There are many subcategories of tegestologists, including those who are solely interested in porcelain or other specific kinds of beermats.