Collector leaves 27,000 beer mats to best friend


By Rory Reynolds

A BEER mat enthusiast who spent a lifetime tracking down some of the world’s rarest mats has left his extraordinary collection to a close friend.

Ian Calvert died two weeks ago aged just 48 after battling with Parkinson’s for seven years.

In his will the lifelong Hearts fan left a staggering 27,000 beer mats – some of which date back to 1929 – to his close friend and fellow “tegestologist” Dennis Harle.

Among the incredible collection are the world’s smallest beer mats, specially made for a dollhouse, along with some of the first produced in the UK.

The IT project manager had gathered the mats, some of which cost hundreds of pounds, from sellers across the globe.

His widow Lesley said he had left a message saying that his friend Dennis was to receive the full collection.

The 41-year-old said: “Dennis was one of the first collectors Ian met, and they have been such close friends through their hobby.”

“He will give them a good home, I’m sure of that. It is so hard to think he’s gone.”

Mr Harle, 62, from Bathgate, West Lothian, said: “I’ve really no idea what I’ll do with the mats, and I’m still a little shocked.

“We met in 1977 and we used to go collecting together. I helped him with his books as well, and he was a lovely guy and a good friend.”

From before he was even old enough to drink himself Ian collected mats, joining the British Beermat Collecting Society in 1977 and being given his first after his father deliver beer to Drybrough’s of Edinburgh.

His collection peaked at 30,000 at one point, and he published A Guide to Collecting Beer Mats in 2006.

Ian was close to finishing another book on pre-war beer mats when he passed away on April 1.

Ian’s other passion was supporting Hearts, and as a season ticket holder went to every match with daughter Samantha, from his first marriage.

Ian’s mum Jeanette said that he had only told the family about his condition, which he was diagnosed with in 2003, recently and tried not to let it affect his life.

She said: “He was a lovely man, and he was my first child and I’ll miss him so much.

“He used to come and visit at Christmas and on birthdays, and I always used to tell him to come more often.

“We only found out a few years ago that he had Parkinson’s as he hadn’t wanted to worry us.

“He was that sort of person, he just wanted to get on with his life.”

Ian is survived by his mum Jeanette, dad Ian, brother Michael, 47, sisters Lorraine, 45, and Yvonne, 40, wife Lesley, and daughter Samantha.

A funeral service is to be held at the Lorimer Chapel at Warriston Crematorium in Edinburgh today (Monday) at 1pm.


  1. To the family of Ian,
    I did not know that he died and I am very shokked to learn about it
    I have been in contact with him about 10 years ago
    Got bless his soul!
    All the best
    Ralph Mendel / Israel

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