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    

A Sealed Copy Of Avalon Hill's "police Blotter" For The Apple Ii And Ibm Pc!Tiffany Studios Rocker Blotter Grapvine Perfect! No Reserve!Vintage Roycroft;two Blotter Corners; Hammered Copper; 1910/1915Cobalt Flow Blue Rs Prussia Ink BlotterVintage Dickinson Carvacraft Phenolic Bakelite Green Smokey Amber Rocker BlotterTiffany Studios Ny Gilt Bronze Pine Needle #997 Set Of 4 Blotter CornersVintage 1930s Coca Cola Pencil Dip Pen Ink Blotter Advertising School Box SetStylish Antique Art Nouveau Bronzed Metal Desk Ink Blotter C1900Vintage Ink Blotter Oak & Copper Taken From Hms VictorySuper Rare Claxtonola Phonograph Advertising Ink BlotterAntique Silver Desk Blotter Hallmarked Birmingham 1928Alice In Wonderland Blotter Art - Signed By Artist MikioAstral Being Mind Expansion Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtVintage Dickinson Carvacraft Phenolic Bakelite Butterscotch Amber Rocker BlotterPrankster Blotter Art "golly Mr Kesey" Signed By Artist MikioMixing The Magic Potion Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtDispensers Inc. Coca Cola BlotterVtg 1940 Notre Dame Big Ten Football Schedule Ink Blotter-purdue-indiana-iowaVintage Morton's Salt Ink Blotter Lowesville, VaFantasia Sorcerer's Apprentice Blotter Art Mickey Mouse Psychedelic Trey Anastasio Phish Cartoon Blotter Art-psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art1940s 50s Wabash Railroad Advertising Lot Pencil Ink Blotters Sign NiceWonderland Older Art Style Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtS486. Vintage: Disney Sunoco Car Saver Advertising Blotter (c. 1942)Mind Melting Rubix Cube Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtRare Double Sided Ganesha Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtFear & Loathing Hunter Thompson Blotter Art-psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtRare Original Dragons Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtVintage Rapid Motorcycle Delivery Service Medical Arts Pharmacy Ink BlotterVintage Mars Pencils 1920"s Ink BlotterWood Wooden Rocker Desk Rocking Ink Blotter Antique Rep Mark Mcloud Jolly Roger Skully Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Mary Kay Beauty Blotters Oil-absorbing Tissues - 75 Tissues - New In Package!Bailey Banks And Biddle Victorian Sterling Ink Blotter, Missing TopRare Auto Texaco Sign Motor Oil Spark Plugs Wilkin & Son Westerville Oh BlotterRare Vintage Cherubs Uncut Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtRochester Metal Arts Bronze Desktop Blotter Calendar Letter Opener Temple UnivBlotter- Magic With Mystic Isely, Cleveland, Ohio.circa 1930s/40s Fine Nores MGoin's Drug Store Blotter Kansas City Calendar 1927 GolferMixed Lot Of Mary Kay Products - Compacts Moisture Masks Bags Blotters SpaVintage Leopold Desks Royal Ribbon & Carbon Company Ny 1920's Ink BlotterLot Of Two Mint Old Coal Companies Ink Blotters-adsRare Psychedelic Being Scene Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtFramed Matted Blotter Art Sheet - Felix The CatScarce Vintage 1942 Girl In Boat Coca Cola Blotter Coke Advertising NosJadeite Advertising 1930's Rocking Scottie Ink Blotter - The Witt Company OhioVery Rare Montblanc Ink Blotter1950s Sexy Pin Up Girl Withers Hollywood Perfect Vision Welder Bronx Ny Blotter1920s Ink Blotter Advertising Schrader Car Tire Valve InsidesVintage Busiess Supply Company Dubuque Iowa Ink Blotter Mode-maker White Blue IaWinona Lake, In.--conference Grounds--pocket Calendars / Ink Blotters--1952 1958Earl Moran , April, 1950, Pin Up Ink Blotter Calendar, Grossman Iron And SteelGirlie Calendar Blotters: Elvgren 1953, 3 Months Mint Condition, Green EdgeOld Ink Blotter Number 49 Mother Hubbard BreadOld Ink Blotter Number 61 Solvay, Lancaster, Pa 1947Old Ink Blotter Number 62 Solvay, Lancaster, Pa 1950Old Ink Blotter Number 63 Solvay, Lancaster, Pa 19521919 Original Anti Alcohol Ink Blotter Alcohol Is A NarcoticEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pin-up/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterT231. Vintage: Wyeth's Cetro-cirose Cough Medicine Ink Blotter Advertisement