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”)

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]

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    

Heintz Arts & Crafts Bronze & Sterling Silver Blotter Holders Circa 1906 Tiffany Studios New York Ink Blotter Estate Of Pres. Augusto Leguia Peru 1921Railroad Blotter New Jersey Central, Route Of The Bullet - SteamVintage Ink Blotters Coca-cola "good!"Solid Sterling Silver Desk Ink Blotter - Birmingham 1930(6) Vintage 1959 Ink Blotter Advertising Pinups Jackson Chevrolet Garland TxCoca-cola Original BlotterRailroad Blotter Chicago And North Western System Daily Streamliner Service6x 1940s Westinghouse Mazda Lamps Lightbulbs Advertising Blotters3 Pack Brand New Mary Kay Beauty Blotters Oil-absorbing Tissues Free Shipping Vintage Advertising Ink Blotter Stewart's Duplex "consapico" Safety Pin Vintage Ink Blotter Hupmobile Peoples Motor Co. Honaker, VaNice! Bristol Myers Co., Celluloid Bottle Advertising Cover Blotter - Ziratol Vintage Ink Blotter Oren Roanoke Corp.2 Wampole’s Blotters: Chaffee ,mo, Collinsville, Il: Ribbons Of Army, BirdsVintage Ink Blotter Stoneman Recapping Service Galax Va K804. Vintage: Disney Sunoco Car Saver Advertising Blotter (c. 1942)Melting Psychedelic Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtVintage Celluloid 1931 Calendar, Ruler, Blotter. Lincoln Fire Insurance Co. N.y.Italian Florentine Wood Desk Stationary Set, Ink Blotter, Letter Paper Holder Antique Heavy Bronze Ink Well Pen Tray & Blotter Kronheim & Oldenbusch Desk SetNear Mint Huntington Indiana 1949 Hudson Automobile Dealer Advertising Blotter Railroad Blotter Santa Fe Super Chief & El Capitan Calendar 1947Railroad Blotter Erie Go ErieRailroad Blotter Baltimore & Ohio B&o, Furlough Fares Soldiers Sailors MarinesRailroad Blotter Chicago & North Western Ry. The ColumbineThe Melvins Blotter Art Signed & Numbered Edition Of 300 Cert Of Authenticity Sterling Silver Desk Blotter - Birmingham 1908 - A & J ZimmermanRailroad Blotter Missouri Pacific The Missourian - Steam 2 Sided Dancing Condoms Mcloud Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Railroad Blotter Great Northern Oriental Limited, Glacier National Park 1930sRailroad Blotter Frisco Red Ball Freight Service Steam EngineRailroad Blotter Southern Pacific Lines Fastest In History Steam July 1946Mentholatum Vintage Wwii Era Patriotic Old Ink Blotter €1920's Coca-cola Coke Ink Blotter Authentic Exc Cond!9"x4", Not A Remake, Crisp. 5 Eli Lilly Iletin Insulin Ink Blotters Pharmacy Drug Store Railroad Blotter Central Of Georgia Travel North & WestAntique Writing Desk Polished Scottish Banded Agate Mounted Ink Blotter / RockerTim Leary Puddles Mark Mcloud Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Railroad Blotter Santa Fe Keeping Up With KansasRailroad Blotter Northern Pacific March 1928, Tacoma, WashingtonRailroad Blotter Florida East Coast Double Track LineKodak Photo Blotter Roll For Drying BbCoke Ink Blotters - 1951 - New Old Stock - Quanity Of 52 Kelloggs Cereal Ink Blotter Unused 1947 Raisin Bran And Pice Krispies1940s Borden Dairy Co. Elsie The Cow Advertising BlotterSkully/low Rider Mark Mcloud Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Rare Pan-am Gas Gasoline Motor Oil Blotter W Airplane Boat Hard To FindKrier Neckties Earl Moran Pin Up Girls Ink Blotter Vintage Ad Unused Chicago Il 1920s Norway Michigan Water Closet Plumbing Vogel Blotter Text Illustration1934 Century Of Progress Blotter - Official Photographers - Hall Of PhotographySterling Silver Trimmed Desk Ink Blotter-ornate And OldRailroad Blotter Akron Canton & Youngstown, Ac&yBlotter Art Lsd Free Hoffman Bike Ride Original Acid Tribute Psychedelic Sheet Vintage Advertising Mcculloch Chain & Bow Saws Model 7-55 & 3-25 Blotter PadFischer's Texaco Station Cheektowaga Ny 1930s Litho Advertising BlotterWw2 Era National City Bank Travelers Checks Us Defense Bonds Advertising Blotter1930's Art Deco German Pelikan Fountain Pen Bottle Ink Well Pot Blotter Paper AdVintage Dune By Christian Dior Perfume Blotter Card Package NewMentholatum Antique Unused Blotter Chromolitho Girl In Uniform Nurses Scout