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”)

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]

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]

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    

Chuck Sperry | Beatles Blotter Print "i'd Love To Turn You On" | Limited #/100Antique, Tiffany Studios Bronze - American Indian Pattern Desk Set -blotter BarsAntique Carved Black Forest Bear Blotter Circa 1880 - " Chateau D'oex"Old Vintage Hartline Ink Blotter Pen Co Mandarin Orange Fountain Pen 1923 5 3/4"Vintage Silver Plated Rocker Desk Top Ink Blotter Blotting Paper Can Be Changed Nice Capstan Blotter Made From The Timber Of The Battleship Hms CollingwoodCoca Cola Blotter Coaster 1930'sPepsi Cola Ink Blotter 1950's Nesbitt's Orange Gulf BottlersAntique Curtis & Son Pepsin Chewing Gum Columbian Exposition Advertising BlotterAntique Judd Masonic Camel Desk Blotter Corners Colorful Quality MadeCoca Cola Scouts Stoutisme Scouting Blotter Buvard Secante VintageGarland & Mcintosh - Roach Killer Druggist Advertising Ink Blotter Farmville, VaDan Patch Special Horse Feed, BlotterVintage Wonderful Never Used Advertising Blotter,chas Rietz WhiskeyVtg Blue Sunoco Blotter Disney Mickey Minnie Mouse Lehighton Pa Service StationWadhams Oil Company Atlas Packing & Rubber Co Ink Blotter SeattleLot 7 Rr Ink Blotters & Union Pacific Unused Writing Tablet Santa Fe RailroadWood Wooden Rocker Desk Rocking Ink Blotter Antique RepBlotter Calendar Hoyt's German Cologne/rubifoam For Teeth/hoyt Co Lowell,ma 1900Assorted Lot Of 10 Railroad Employee Business Cards / One Adv / One Mini-blotterAdvertising Coit Monument Works Blotter Ravenna Ohio1907 Flanigan Warehouse Co. Reno Nevada March Calendar BlotterCooper Tires Ink BlotterBoy Scout Protestants Catholics Jews Liberty & Justice For All Ink Blotter BsaHarrison Shoes For Real Boys,peoples Shoe Store,milton,pa.,ink Blotter,1920'sVintage Ink Blotter ~ Amsterdam Printing Co., Amsterdam Ny Advertising Us MailUnidentified Artist -1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pin-up/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - August 1962 Art Illustrated Pin-up/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterBuell - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pin-up/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEl Paso Texas Casket Co 1959 Ink BlotterVintage Raybestos Brakes Scotia Garage & Service Scotia Ny New York Ink Blotter4- Vintage York County Pa Ink BlottersCoca Cola Blotter Small 1942Vintage Unused Blotter-b.vitarius-mfr Of Surgical &orthopedic Appliances-hobokenEarly Van Heusen Shirt Co. Ink Blotter Bob HopeCharles Town, Wv Goodrich Tires From Weller Bros , 1928 Calendar Blotter2 Vintage Ink Blotters ~ Aetna Life Insurance Co., Hartford, Conn.Vintage 1950 Sunset Limited Southern Pacific Blotter New Orleans To Los AngelesCoatesville Pa Newton Duitch Cash For Your New Car Auto Plan 1950's Ink BlotterGreat Bend, Kansas-early Ink Blotter-walnut Creek Milling Co-three Choice FloursCoca-cola Boy Scout Vintage BlotterVintage Paper Smokey The Bear Blotter1vintage Antique Wooden Signature Dryer Ink Blotter/rocking Ink Dryer StationeryColorful Advertising Ink Blotter, Abrazo, The Ideal Aluminum Cleaner, Steel Wool