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 Tiffany Studios New York #1002 Bronze Bookmark Desk Blotter EndsAntique Victorian Oak Brass Mounted Stationery Writing Box Blotter Desk Top Set Erhard & Sohne Blotter Desk Top Brass Inlaid Rosewood Art NouveauAntique Victorian Oak Brass Mounted Stationery Writing Box Blotter Desk Top Set Tiffany Studios Graduate 12" Blotter Ends | Tsny Gold Bronze Desk Set | NrAntique Desktop Roller Blotter Brass Foliate Decoration Edwardian Circa 1900Russell Mockridge Ink Blotter Vintage Bike Bicycle Cycling HealingWw2 "treen Ink Blotter" Wooden,inscribed "from Polish Airmen 1943" Marquetry..Antique Sterling Silver Desk Top Ink Blotter Floral Respousse DesignRoger Arnold Ink Blotter Vintage Cycling HealingLarge 1910 Great Northern Railway Ink Blotter RailroadSilver Ink Blotter And Calender Usa Patent Old English Silver Hallmarks DesktopEarly Heintz Silver On Bronze Rocker Blotter Metalware Arts & Crafts Shop1929 Chicaco Cubs Photographer Ink BlotterLarge Circa 1910 Northern Pacific Railway Ink Blotter Railroad1927 Northern Pacific Railroad Calendar December Ink Blotter Yakima Washington 1927 Northern Pacific Railroad Calendar November Ink Blotter Missoula MontanaWwii Ink Blotter Ose Hardware, Story City, Iowa, Shellane Gas Service, Jap NavyVintage 1960s Blue & Black Blotter Print Sheath Dress Sz M Rockabilly 1925 Northern Pacific Railroad Calendar September Ink Blotter Yellowstone ParkTrue Vtg Advertising Ink Blotter Book Johnson & Johnson Florence NightingaleChester Pilsner Beer Advertising Blotter 1930sD' Ancona -february 1954 Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterAdvertising Blotter, Carter's Ink, People Of The World, Colorful, Mint ConditionTrifold Antique Wood/leather Desk Blotter, 19th Century Or Earlier, Hand PaintedChase & Sanborn's Seal Brand Coffee & Tea Unused BlotterVintage Ink Blotter The Consolidated Flour Mills Wichita Kansas Bag Pic UnusedAntique German Black Forest Wood Carved Sitting Bear Desk Ink Blotter Glass EyesLayne - May 1951 Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterElvgren - May 1956 Art Illustrated Pinup/cheesecake Model Ink BlotterFacial Oil Control Film Blotters Blotting Beauty Paper Tissue 100 Sheets HotSanta Fe Railroad Vintage Ink Blotter Intro To Diesels Doin It With DieselsAntique Sterling Silver Ornate 3.5 Ink Blotter Ornate Vintage Ink Blotter W F Holleicke Tire Co Dunlop Wichita Kansas Unused N-mintVtg Ink Blotter Advertising Cellasin-diabetes Mellitus-medicine-buffalo New YorkVtg Ink Blotter Advertising Carlsbad Salt-medicine-eli Lilly-indianapolis In1914 Advertising Blotter Engstrom Tire Co. Auto Service Station Albion Michigan Typewriter Eraser Eberhard Faber Advertising Blotter~great Color Graphics~ (s"vintage Usa. Pin-up Blotter Jeweler John A. Marshall 1946-end Of War; Calendar"Vintage Racine, Wisconsin Postcard/blotter 1904 W.j. Handle & Co.Mary Kay Beauty Blotters Oil-absorbing Tissues (lot Of 2 )