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    

Antique Erhard & SSuper Vintage Gucci Crocodile Alligator Traveling Desk Pad BlotterOriginal Vtg Antique 30's Coca Cola Coke Script Logo Advertising Ad Card BlotterVintage Tiffany Studios New York Rare Pine Needle 19 Inch Desk Blotter Ends 999Vintage Art Deco Executive Variegated Black Marble Desk Set Inkwell Blotter VxVintage Triangle Spring Co. & Oilzum White&bagley Ink BlottersVintage Ink Blotter For Rapid Motorcycle Delivery Service Medical Arts Pharmacy1890s - 1910s Baseball Spider Man Vintage Catchers Mask Ink Block Blotter StampEstate Old Vintage Deco Metal Library Books Figural Desk Ink Blotter RockerOriginal Marilyn Monroe Norma 1950 Proof Earl Moran Blotter Card Photo Calendar Shaman Mushroom Trance Sheet Blotter Art-psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtVintage Waterman's Ideal Fountain Pen And Advertising BlotterOriginal Marilyn Monroe 1956 Earl Moran Blotter Card Vintage Photo Calendar Ats Stamped Desk Metal Rocking Blotter And Container . Military Ww2Original Marilyn Monroe Norma 1954 Proof Earl Moran Blotter Card Photo CalendarGonzo Style Skull & Cross Bones Blotter Art-psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Albert Hofman Psychedelic Sheet Blotter Art-psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtScarce Cairns And Brothers Adverting Ink Blotter Late 1800'sGreen Black Glass Rocking Elephant Ink Blotter, Thew , Old No Damage1946/7/8 Ford Ink Blotters (2)Serv Wel Ozark Pencil Company Blotter Sentinel Printing Indianapolis In 1940Snoopy Charlie Brown Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtIroquois Beer Advertising Ink Blotter Used [geo2197]Vintage Advertising Ink Blotter Walton Girls Shoes C.s. Long Loudonville Ohio 10 Blotter Art Pieces Including Two Signed, Blind Auction Dealers Choice Art LotVintage Ink Blotter Advertising Coca Cola C1920 Edison Mazda Lamps Advertising Ink Blotter Unused F.h. Porter Electric CoVintage Jadite Rocking Horse/scottie Dog Blotter Excellent!!! NrVintage 1940 V.m.i Vs George Wash. Football Schedule Ink Blotter Melting Psychedelic Realm Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtVintage Estate Ornate Enamelware Desk Set Ink Blotter Letter Opener Stamp HolderGreen Jadedite Rocking Scotty Dog Ink Blotter, Thew , Old No DamagePopular Images Combination Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Psychedelic Elephant Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Large Albert Hofman Bicycle Day Blotter Art-psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid ArtAdvertising Blotter Republic Pictures Serial King Of The Texas Rangers 1941Vintage Ink Blotter, York Peanut Butter Advertising Alice In Wonderland TumblersTwo Vintage Sunoco Ink Blotters/ Donald DuckVader Heads Star Wars Sheet Blotter Art-psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Ttiffany Studios Bronze Blotter Ends Large Size For Zodiac Desk Set Desk Top Ink Blotter2 Fantastic Advertising Ink Blotters For The Northern Oil Coal Co. - ToledoLimited Hendrix Stamp/hits Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Advertising Blotter For The Nyc "james Whitcomb Riley" All-coach StreamlinerAnitique Leather Ink Blotter BookVeedol Motor Oil Blotter Elvgren - November 1950 Art Illustrated Pin-up/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - August 1955 Art Illustrated Pin-up/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterViles Of Lsd Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art1920 Era Cooper Tire And Battery Battery Ink Blotter Nice Unused ConditionNew York Beer Brewery Ink Blotter Franz Bouquet Agent For John Kress Brewing Co.Vintage Blotter Veedol Tractor Oil1940's Northern Short Route Die Cut Blotter BusSunoco Ink BlotterMeditating Yin Yang Monk Sheet Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art C1950 Life Magazine Promo Blotter Chicago Single Issue Audience - Wrigley FieldSupertest Ink BlotterStillmore Whiskey Blotter Memphis Tennessee ~1910 Bottle Pic Sambucetti BianchiGreatful Dead Bob Marley Heads Blotter Art Psychedelic Perforated Lsd Acid Art Two 1947 Calendar - Blotter-size Cards - Davis Coal & Supply Co, Sharon Pa