The first time I ever picked up a coaster with the intention of "collecting" the little bits of absorbant cardboard was at the
shopping mall booth of Herb and Elaine Ashendorf back in 1977 or 78. They were set up with all sorts of beer items, and there,
for $3.00 was a 4", orange, "In Jersey, It's Hensler" coaster. I had a brother who had a really good beer collection at this time
and I found it a bit ironic that a 1940's Hensler beer can in "dug" condition was worth big bucks while here was a mint condition
Hensler beer coaster from the same era, for only $3.00.
So, this unrecognized value in older coasters at a time when many were chasing after better beer cans was my initial reason for
seeing what kind of a collection I could start without any budget.
I spent 2 years accumulating as many coasters as I could through buying and trading with everyone that I could find. By 1980,
my collection had grown to around 1,300 different coasters. I was coming home from my job and spending many hours a week
at a typewriter as I literally typed out the descriptions for over 1,100 different coasters. I photograhed the coasters from my
collection and typed everything that I knew about coaster collecting.
I somehow convinced my younger brother to loan me $4,000 for the printer. The printing company did a print run of 1,000
copies. I can remember packing 5 huge cardboard boxes into my small car as I left the printer's office with my entire print order.
My wife wasn't so thrilled with these cartons stacked in one giant column in the corner of the living room.
Thanks to articles in Beer Cans Monthly Magazine and other fine beer can and breweriana publications of the time, "The U.S.
Beer Coaster Guide" sold briskly to collectors around the world. The new owners of the guide book came together as each
discovered the diversity of coasters available to collect. I formed the "National Association of Beer Coaster Collectors" and
every member was able to keep current with new coaster finds, and contact and deal with each other as fellow coaster
The internet followed in the next few years and other collectors wrote regional guides of local coasters. Soon, micro breweries
started making a whole new sub-catagory of coasters and the hobby really grew rapidly. The rest is history!
Tom Byrne - 3/29/2010
I thought it would be fun for you Old Timers to remember some of the past and for you Youngsters to learn what it was like in the
days before the computers, the internet, eBay and iPhones. This section will show the coaster related items from years ago, either
associated with the hobby or anything else related to coasters. The idea came from Paul Brady who sent me a great price list by
Absorbo Beer PadCompany circa 1935. Contact me if you have anything else that would go into this section and describe why it
Absorbo Beer Pad Company price list for the William Gretz Brewing Company. Couple of
interesting things, check out the prices AND the number of coasters they would print.
Where did they all end up? Also look at the 'coaster' in the upper left corner, any ever one
see that one? Could be nothing or a test coaster or a hidden gem in someones attic. Click
on the picture for a full size version
The U.S. Beer Coaster Guide Volume 1 by Thomas Byrne Copyright, 1980.
This is the "Bible" for coaster collecting, most of the sections and information on this site are
taken from this book plus there is a whole lot more. Over 1100 coasters are pictured in this
book with brewery information and dates. A great reference guide that set the standards for
all the guides since then (Paper and Internet).
It's old, out-dated but the coaster related material is excellent and still applicable. Copies
show up now and then at breweriana shows and eBay. If you can find one, buy it, well worth
Chicago Brewery Coasters by Robert (Bob) Kay & Paul Zagielski, Copyright 1982
The first coaster guide dedicated to a particular region, the same catalog codes are used
today on this site.
The Chicago Coaster Guide came in three editions with the latest done in 1995. Little
known is the fact that Bob Kay did all the brewery history and Paul did all the collecting
of the coaster examples for coaster illustrations. There were a few coasters shown that
copies were sent to Paul with no owners identity.
United States Micro/Brewpub Coaster Guide VOL. 1 Alabama - Louisiana by
Jack McDougall and Steve Pawlowski, Copyright 1994
The first guide dedicated to Micro Coasters, this volumne is over an inch thick
without page #'s to make updates easier. It was a massive undertaking by Jack and
Steve. Imagine trying to keep this current (on paper) at the rate that new micro
coasters are issued. These books were personally autographed by Steve and Jack.
Coasters of New England Vol. 1 Connecticut by George Barone, Copyright (well not
OK so it is not nostalgic, nor very old but it was the first one I did. A grand total of 7 or
8 pages. Xerox copies of coasters were cut-out, glue to the paper then copied again.
The library made a lot of money off of these guides.