Touch Records Beermat.
(c) 2014 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence
Sorting a box of old beermats out for a flea market recently I pulled a few of the more interesting retro designs out and noticed the interesting way women were depicted on some of them. It’s a little hard to accurately date all these but they all come from the late fifties and early sixties. Beermats themselves date back to the 1920s in the UK, made from wood pulp. Most post-war beer mats have fairly blokey jokey images on, guys carrying girders for Guinness, brandishing pint pots, and so on. When it comes to women, the illustrations are more lightweight, reflecting the types of drink being promoted to women. So we get what looks like a very young girl dancing with a sheep to promote ‘wine splitlets’, whatever they may be.
At the other end of the spectrum comes a curiously dressed woman in a vaguely Georgian period outfit selling the soft-drink Strawberry Fayre.
Mackeson, makers of stout (which was the favourite tipple of Ena Sharples on Coronation Street), go for a series of sketchy drawings in which one of the bottle openers is morphed into aneveryday object, in these two a banjo case and an upright vacuum cleaner.
The Babycham ‘bubbly’ series is quite collectable due to the scantily clad women show across around half a dozen different beermats. Each mat has a different name, and the images are very like the famous wartime Jane cartoon strip.
Cherry B offer a light or full strength option cherry wine, with a late fifties beatnik outfit of leggings and striped top for the young women. For Britvic’s other offering here, the ‘spicy sophisticated’ Hawaiian Punch inspires a grass skirted Hawaiian dancer. These mats are from 1965.
Lastly comes a more typical offering from Babycham, with the blonde ogling their very strange leaping deer logo. Maybe after a glass of the stuff even the wildlife look attractive. I was surprised to learn that Babycham was launched as recently as 1953 and has a place in history as the first alcoholic drink to be advertised on UK television.