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    

Antique Erhard & Sohne Jugendstil Nouveau Wood Brass Ink Blotter 1900s Desktop1921 * Rare Treen Box Company Babe Ruth Blotter/calendar Card Nm * Mlb BaseballTexaco Blotter Brand New ConditionGlue Shirt, Blotter, Crazy Spirit, Glazing Eye, Gas Rag, CreemVintage Brand-new Nos Desk Accessory: Bona Allen Saddle Co. Leather Desk BlotterAuthentic Chanel Notebook Plume De Chanel Ceramic Blotter & Holiday Tape Ribbon C1920 Prest-o-lite Car Battery Advertising Ink Blotter Premium Bloomsburg PaChesapeake & Ohio(c&o)adveryisng Ink Blotter Ca. 1925Marilyn Monroe 1946 Earl Moran Blotter Litho Vintage Photo Original Mutoscope MtTexaco Blotter, Jersey City, New JerseyBicycle Day In A Galaxy Far Away Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art1940 Farley&loetscher Dubuque,iowa Ink BlotterThe Flaming Lips Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art1915 Panama-pacific International Expo Schmidt Litho Co. Advertising Blotter Vintage 1928 Northern Pacific Calendar Ink Blotter ( Super Graphics ) Railroad Blotter Central Of Georgia North & WestRailroad Blotter Missouri & Arkansas Ry Co System MapC1920 Celo Charles Twelvetrees Advertising Ink Blotter Premium Spirit Of TodayOld Ben Coal Vintage Blotter October 1930 Lonsdale, MinnesotaA Mescaline Night Cartoon Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtKess Inhouse Miranda Mol "orange Swirl Kiss" Office Desk Mat, Blotter, MousepadSuperman Tribute Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art1930s Cobalt Blue Depression Glass Sailboat Rocker Ink Blotter Paperweight AtlasChesapeake & Ohio(c&o)2 Advertising Ink Blotters From 1940Railroad Blotter Cmstp&p Milwaukee Road Southwest Limited2 Antique Ink Blotters Pat-a-cake & Patapsco Flour Gambrill Mfg Baltimore C1910Chicago, South Shore & South Bend R.r. Blotter Jun 1959 Levels With YouAntique Vintage 4 Piece Marble Onyx Desk Set Pen Holder Calendar BlotterAlbert Hofman Bicycle Day 2013. 2-sided Blotter Art. Psychadelic Lsd Acid ArtBlotters Des Plaines Illinois Meyer Coal Fuel Price List 1928 Zeigler Lee StWorld War Ii - Army Navy How To Identify Them - Ink BlotterGeorge's Candy Shop, A Mobile Al Iconic Store , Vintage Advertising Ink BlotterCirca 1880 Victorian Advertising Ink BlotterAntique Blotter Corners & Antique Ink Well Quill Pen Desk SetMary Kay "the Big Day Set" Wedding Bridal Gift-finishing Spary-mascara-blottersRailroad Blotter Di*ieland Route 1936, C&ei, L&n, Nc&stlBat Country Fear & Loathing Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtAntique Style Solid Wood Dip Pen Writing Ink Blotter 2 Vtg Ink Blotters Goodrich Rubber Footware N.s. Graybill, Richfield, Pa, C1930sSeal Of Minnesota Flour Vintage Blotter International Milling Co. March 1928Orient Coal H.e. Westerman Lumber Co. Vintage Blotter IllinoisLot Of 4 Wilson Cutler Advertising Blotter Johnson Freight Lines Nashville Tn Vintage Thanksgiving Ink Blotter Fanny Farmer Candies Advertising Candy HolidayDiamond Match Arm Band; Red Bird Matches Blotter, Cardinal, Hold & Co. NewportDr.hofmann Lsd Molecule Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtJimi Hendrix Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtRailroad Blotter Illinois Central Railroad Centennial December 1951, MapVintage Antique Lot Of 3 Ink Blotters Nutricia Milk Co Of Wisconsin Milwaukee Vtg Wampole's Creo-terpin Drugs Bird Series Ink Blotters Rexall Store Weston OhChicago, South Shore & South Bend R.r. Blotter Apr 1959 Best Uncovered YetOld 150 Hour Veedol Tractor Oil Ink Blotter, UsedLot Of 6 Pin Up Ink Blotters Earl Moran 1940's Elvgren Card Sexy Girls Vtg Typewriter Sales Repair Adv Ink Blotter C.l. Eicholtz, New Oxford, Pa C1930sVintage Advertising Ink Blotter - ‘j. A. Desfosses – Head Office At Montreal’ Walton Shoe, F.w. Clark, Skaneateles Ny Vintage Ink Blotter, UsedVintage 1929 Dietzgen Photostat Service Ink Blotter / Calendar - ChicagoVintage 1929 Pneumatic Scale Corp Ink Blotter / Calendar 5 Vintage Blotters-all Wwi Plus Ii Theme-military-6 To 9 InchesEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink Blotter