The term ink blotter refers either to a handheld rocking device or simple blotting paper, both used to absorb excess ink when writing with fountain pens. Before blotters were invented, the preferred (albeit expensive) method was sprinkling salt over fresh written text to speed the drying process.

Hand blotters came into fashion during the early 1800s, and generally featured a small handle mounted on a curved base, whose bottom surface was covered in felt and gently rocked over written text to absorb wet ink. These rocking blotters, or rockers, were made of various sturdy materials like wood, stone, metal, porcelain, or glass.

Blotting paper was first manufactured in the United States by Joseph Parker & Son in 1856. Parker (no relation to Parker Pens) became the industry leader after recognizing the absorbent quality of softer paper sheets made without adding a binding element, or “sizing,” to the paper mixture. The result was a thicker card material that absorbed ink without damaging a pen’s nib or smudged written words.

Blotting paper was eventually designed to attach on the underside of rocking blotters, which could be placed within a flat, decorative frame on the desk surface. Businesses quickly recognized the potential for advertising on blotting paper, and began customizing sheets with company marketing. Ink blotting paper thus became a form of business card, often given away by bankers or insurance salesman. Other decorative styles included alphabet script diagrams, monthly calendars, or even pinup girls.

A fashionable professional of the early 20th century typically owned a complete writing desk set (pieces typically included an inkwell, letter opener, and other useful items), using a rocking blotter in conjunction with a blotting-paper surface. The blotters of this era were often made of colorful pressed glass with handles in the shapes of objects or animals.

The dual advancements of quick-drying inks and ballpoint pens in the 1950s made blotters obsolete for most writers. However, a resurgence of interest in fountain pens provides enough business for companies like J. Herbin, founded in 1670, to continue to make classic ink blotters today.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Parker51.com

Parker51.com

Ernesto Soler's extensive homage to one of the most popular pens ever produced, the Parker "51," introduced in 1941… [read review or visit site]

Early Office Museum

Early Office Museum

This site showcases pre-1920 office antiques, including paperweights, writing ink, paper fasteners, seal pressers, … [read review or visit site]

Penhero.com

Penhero.com

Jim Mamoulides' vintage and modern pen-cyclopedia. Start at the main gallery, featuring detailed articles (with pho… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Art Deco Retro Green Phenolic Desk Ink Blotter Carvacraft Bakelite Montblanc Meisterstück Crystal Blotter Gold Plated 14073 In BoxTiffany Studios Pine Needle Rocker Blotter - Tsny Desk Set1920s Peter Rabbit Harrison Cady Design Childs Inkwell Desk Set W BlotterAntique Marked Tiffany Studios New York Silver Plate Blotter Holders Desk SetTiffany Desk Blotter Ends And Letter Opener, Brass, Painted InlaysVintage Bakelite Blotter, Phenlolic Resin.Antique Sterling Top Rocker Blotter W/ Repousse Florals & Sterling Handle4 Bronze Or Brass Desk Blotter Corners, With EagleLeather Stationary Writing Set Blotter Address Memo Book Briefcase Letters CasePrimus Blotter Art SetVictor Cleveland Talking Machine Co. Advertising Blotter BookEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterOriginal C.1940's Mobil Mobiloil D Motorcycle Oil Promotional BlotterThe Blotter #6 (1986, Roy Tompkins) Rare! Mint! Nr!Earl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterVintage Lone Ranger Bond Bread Advertising Ink Blotter LotVintage Leather & Gold Desk Set With Ink Well Stamp Box Blotter Opener Note Pad Earl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterHomers Crazy Trips Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtNot Mutoscope - Ink Blotters!!! Nice Representative Samples For Your Collection!Rare A Psychedelic Mind Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtGarcia Heads Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtVintage Western Electric Fountain Pen Ink Blotter Meriden Conn.griswold RichmondLot (10) Blotter Cards Beautiful Dogs Hunter Hunt Hunting Pointer Setter Vg7480Rare Vintage Atlanta Birmingham And Coast Railroad Co. BlotterVtg 20s 30s Gulfspray Insect Killer Advertising Fountain Pen Paper Ink BlotterAlbert Hofman Bike Ride Collection Blotter Art. Lsd Acid Art X 20 Sheets1950's/60's Chevrolet Ink BlotterNib Mary Kay Beauty Blotters Oil-absorbing TissuesBuddha Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtRetro Mickey Mouse Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtArt Nouveau Filigreed Ink Blotter Bronze & WoodElvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterVintage Ink Blotter. Orient Coal. Blue Island Il. Mutual Benefit Huntingdon Pa 1953 Us State ++ License Plate Ink Blotter UnusedBlotter Art Characters Combo Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtRare Vtg Adv Ink Blotter/pure Oil Gas Station Collectible 1950'sMixing The Magic Potion Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtTiffany Desk Blotter Brass Paperweight / Blotter Herreshoff Mfg Bristol Ri - Arthur Mccartney EsqVintage 1940's Pin Up Blotters, Lot Of 18Lsd Blotter Art William Rafti Signed C.o.a./embossed. Rare. Oop.Elvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink Blotter1930's-1940's Lot Of 13 Pin Up Blotters, By Buell, Armstrong, Frahm, Others.Elvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink Blotter