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    

Set Of 4 Antique Tiffany Studios Bronze Desktop Blotter Corners Zodiac PatternTiffany Studios Antique Bronze Desktop Ink Blotter Zodiac Pattern Dore PatinaVintage Wooden Desk Blotter Made From Bowsprit Of Hms Victory, Nelsons FlagshipVintage 1940's Halloween Laura Secord Candies Blotter Card W/ Witch, Jol, KidsTiffany Studios Pine Needle Rocker Blotter - Tsny Desk SetTiffany Studios Pine Needle Desk Blotter Ends, 2 PieceTiffany Studios Modeled Artistic Pattern Desk Accessories Blotters Tray 5281-4Roycroft Hammered Copper Rocker Ink BlotterDr Hofmann Bicycle Lsd Molecule Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art4 Mughal School Parchment Paintd & Gilt Desk Writing Surface Blotter Corners YqzNew Mary Kay Oil Mattifier And Beauty Blotters Oil Absorbing Tissues LotLot Of 7 K.o. Munson 1940s Pin-up Girl Ink Blotters Brown & Bigelow Calendar Co.Antique Diehl Beer Defiance Ohio Ink Blotter, Height Of Perfection, Christ DiehlAcid Eaters Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtPsychedelic Realm Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtVacuum Oil Company Plume & Mobiloil Kingsford Smith's Choice Ink Blotter 20/30'sBaseball: Jimmy Foxx (hof) Ink Blotter Ca. 1930; Philadelphia AthleticsVintage Lot Of 4 Enoch Bolles 1930s Pin-up Girl Ink Blotters Thos D. Murphy L@@kVintage 1930s Brown Bakelite Rocking Ink Blotter -desktop ItemLouisville & Nashville Railroad Ink Blotter Advertising Train L&n R.r. FloridaVintage 1920's Baseball Ink Blotter Goodrich Zips Athletic Shoes Sneakers Rare Vtg Ink Blotter W Skinny Dipping Boys C Berntheizel Insurance Columbia Pa 1920sAll Seeing Eye Pyramid Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtHuge Mixed Lot 60 Vintage Nibs Glass Blotter & Dip Fountain Tips + Hardtmuth PenVacuum Oil Company Pty Ltd "cleanliness" Ink Blotter Circa 1920/30'sVacuum Oil Company Time To Change To Mobiloil Arctic Ink Blotter Circa 1920/30'sInk Blotter Official 1951 National League Baseball Schedule Ford Dayton Ohio #f51930 Southern Pacific Lines Railroad Ink Blotter Train Map Route Freight AgentAntique Bradley And Hubbard Desk Set Oriental Asian Motif Blotter Stamps ClipAtlantic White Flash Motor Oil Vintage Ink BlotterPsychadelic Blotter Art Annonymous Grab Bag.you Will recieve 3 Different SheetsVintage Doctors Ink Blotter Cards, So Many Medicines, Lot Of 31 CardsColorful 1920's Red Rose Tea,coffee Ink BlotterVintage Unused Lipstick Towels ( 8 ) Embossed Paper Lip BlottersC. Josef Lamy Gmbh Lamy 50 Ml Ink Bottle With Blotter Paper Base, Blue, NewRare Ici Advertising Desk Top Ink Blotter ,made In Resin Service LaboratoryAlbert Hofmann Bicycle Day Collection. Psychadelic Blotter Art. Lsd.Captain Lsd Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtVacuum Oil Company Plume For Split Second Starting Ink Blotter Circa 1920/30'sMobilubrication We Give You A Good Start Ink Blotter Circa 1920/30'sVacuum Oil Company Pty Ltd "economy" Ink Blotter Circa 1920/30'sVacuum Oil Company Gargoyle Super Cylinder Oils Ink Blotter 1920/30'sVacuum Oil Company Laurel Kerosene Ink Blotter 1920/30'sVacuum Oil Company Gargoyle Mobiloil "here's Your Guide" Ink Blotter 1920/30'sVacuum Oil Company Gargoyle D.t.e. Oils Ink Blotter 1920/30's1950s Original Lot Of 5 Diff Pin Up Girl Ink Blotters By Elvgren # G33Vintage Scottish Terrier, Scottie, Scotty Jadite Ink Blotter Vtg Lot 14 Advertising Ink Blotters - Clalendar Pin-up Walsh Refractories & MoreArt Deco Ink Blotter From City Light & Water Works, Schuyler, NebraskaInk Blotter Adam H Bartel Company Dry Goods Workmens Clothing Richmond IndianaCool 1940s Ink Blotter From Continental Trailways Bus LineVintage Brantford Coach And Body Limited Blotter - Native Head LogoVintage 1942 Wwii American Gas Amoco J.c. Leyendecker Baby Saluting Blotter3 Unused Blotters, W.f. Drennen & Co., Butter/cheese, Eggs, Chicago, IlEarl Moran - 1940/50s Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterArtistic National Cast Iron Range Rodewig & Co Bellaire Ohio Ink Blotter UnusedAlbert Hofman Bike Ride. Blotter Art. Psychadelic Lsd Acid ArtLsd Blotter Art Signed By Sasha Shulgin. Very Rare.Antique Sterling Silver Handle, Ink Roller Blotter #492631940's Earl Moran Pin Up Blotters, Lot Of 15