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]

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]

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 Print "i'd Love To Turn You On" Beatle Blotter Lennon RingoChuck Sperry | Beatles Blotter Print "i'd Love To Turn You On" | Limited #/100Antique, Tiffany Studios Bronze - American Indian Pattern Desk Set -blotter BarsTwo Rare Original 1930 Drink Coca Cola Advertising Ink Blotters Vintage Mint Levenger Wooden Desk Rocking Ink Blotter BeautifulOld Vintage Hartline Ink Blotter Pen Co Mandarin Orange Fountain Pen 1923 5 3/4"Timothy Leary / Sasha Shulgin Blotter Fractal Sun Signed 5 Days Before Tl DeathChuck Sperry "orange Sunshine" Art Print Blotter Le Of 100 Signed And Numbered1946 Coca-cola Ink Blotter Made For Use In Mexico1947 Coca-cola Ink Blotter Made For Use In MexicoVintage Firestone Motorcycle Tires Ink Blotter Early 1900s Board-track Racers Marland Oil Ink BlotterThree Coca Cola Ink Blotters - Unused - 1935, 1942, 1956Vintage White Trucks Advertising Ink Blotter, Snyder Auto Service, York,paAntique Judd Masonic Camel Desk Blotter Corners Colorful Quality MadeDenver, Colorado ~ Mongol The Business Pencil Of The World ~ Blotter ~ Bc 740Dan Patch Special Horse Feed, BlotterVintage Wonderful Never Used Advertising Blotter,chas Rietz WhiskeyCoca Cola Scouts Stoutisme Scouting Blotter Buvard Secante VintageVtg Blue Sunoco Blotter Disney Mickey Minnie Mouse Lehighton Pa Service Station3-florida East Coast Railway Blotters: 1-miami Passenger, 2 System Freight/rare!Wood Wooden Rocker Desk Rocking Ink Blotter Antique Rep7 Vintage Pin Up Ink Blotters Lot - Earl MoranS832. Lot Of 2: Military Airships Bingham Brothers Promo Ink Blotters (1940's) [1953 Quebec Canada Coca-cola Ink Blotter1942 Coca-cola Ink Blotter Made For Use In MexicoPatterson Drug Co - Wampole's Creo-terpin Advertising Ink Blotter Farmville, VaThe National Guard Armory Somerville, Nj Ink Blotter Ad For Ruberoid Roofing 1945 Trade Card- Blotter American Express Travelers Cheques West Town State BankAntique Wooden Ink Blotter With Solid Silver Top, Hallmarked 1933.Coca Cola Blotter 1939"inky Racer"carters Ink Blotter ,lebanon Pa Dutweller C.1900 8x3.5" UnusedLot 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 19001952 Standard Electric Reading Pa. Advertising Calendar Blotter Elvgren GirlCa 1885 Merchants Gargling Oil Advertising Blotter 9 Inches Long!1907 Flanigan Warehouse Co. Reno Nevada March Calendar BlotterOld Advertising Blotter-hercules Non Skid Tires- 1920's?Vintage Set 4 Crystal Legends Blotter Corners Ends Desk Set Aesthetic Godinger 1942 Ww2 How To Identify Army-navy Insignia Blotter - Joseph L Gill Re-electionTexaco Blotter Lot 624Vintage Raybestos Brakes Scotia Garage & Service Scotia Ny New York Ink BlotterFarmville Electric Appliance Co - Pairet Advertising Ink Blotter Farmville, VaVintage Unused Blotter-b.vitarius-mfr Of Surgical &orthopedic Appliances-hobokenAdvertising Coit Monument Works Blotter Ravenna OhioVintage Ink Blotter A Jenkinson Linens Kansas City Mo Charles H Twelvetrees ArtVintage Ink Blotter ~ Amsterdam Printing Co., Amsterdam Ny Advertising Us MailVintage Paper Smokey The Bear Blotter1vintage Antique Wooden Signature Dryer Ink Blotter/rocking Ink Dryer Stationery1941 Coca Cola Ink Blotter "i Think It's Swell"Antique Carved Black Forest Bear Blotter Circa 1880 - " Chateau D'oex"