Coasters, a short history

Although this post is called a short history, coasters actually have a very long career of hanging out under our cups and glasses and stopping drips of drinks from staining our furniture. Let’s find out more shall we?

The origin of the coaster is shrouded in mystery, possibly kept under wraps by the Freemasons, but examples have been found that date back to ancient Egypt. They were the prize possessions of the pharoes and were considered their most valuable treasures.

Many other notable examples of historic coasters can be seen in museums today, for example the famous “Odysseus Odyssey” of Ancient Greece, which depicts the world as the Greeks saw it, and the route Odysseus took on his way home from Troy.

Another particularly well known coaster is the famous “Square William.” This was the favoured coaster of William the Conqueror, which he had with him at the Battle of Hastings and attributed his success on the field to. During the battle his squire, who followed the French king about with a little table atop which was his cup of bovril on his favourite coaster, was injured, but kept to his task, prompting William to utter those now infamous words, “have a sip of my bovril, that’ll set you right.”

The Square William is the first known example of the square coaster; before it all coasters were round.

Throughout the Middle Ages the coaster fell out of favour as a penchant for divining the future by reading the rings left in table tops from uncoastered drinks became fashionable. However, a secret underground society of coaster users kept them from falling into obscurity.

During the Renaissance the coaster reached its heyday and it is from this era it gets its name.

Many furniture manufacturers were getting increasingly annoyed by their creations being spoiled by troublesome coffee cup stains, and it is around this time that the genius Barry Coaster is crowned the world’s most wonderful man.

He reinvented the coaster, giving it his own name and bringing it out in a wide range of shapes and styles. He used vivid colours and designs to make them the most talked about items in every room they were found in.

He ran a very successful advertising campaign and very cleverly got the celebrities of the day to appear with his coasters. One of the more famous leaflets he produced had Leonardo da Vinci holding up a coaster and smiling as the caption read “I’ve got my coaster, have you got yours yet?”

Da Vinci’s very famous sketch of a naked man doing star jumps is a design he made for one of Barry’s best selling coasters.

Celtic knotwork coasters
Celtic knotwork coasters Celtic knotwork coasters

So to celebrate mankind’s most brilliant invention I’ve made a few coasters which you could actually own! Yes, that’s right. Why not take a quick look in our shop and see if anything takes your fancy.

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