As the first post in a new series of posts, I want to give you a peek inside my collection of vintage fountain-pen-related items. Today we’re going to look at some of the vintage ink blotters that I’ve collected. Blotters used to be used quite regularly by pretty much anyone who used dip or fountain pens. This made them great candidates for advertising materials. They were cheap to make and could be given away to anyone who was browsing at the local pen counter. I like to imagine a pack of new blotters was included with every pen shipment and would be found stacked next to the latest pens and inks of the day.
One thing I will mention about these blotters is that most of them have a printed surface on one side (the side shown in these images) that is not suitable for use as a blotter, with blotter paper on the other side. That’s why they look more like an advertisement out of a magazine rather than a blotter. I’ll also say that I don’t claim to be an expert on vintage blotters, so can’t give a detailed history on them. I just think ephemera like this is a fascinating part of our hobby and mainly wanted to share them here so that hopefully you can get some enjoyment out of them like I do!
Vintage Ink Blotters
Let’s start off with what may be some of the more ubiquitous vintage blotters you’ll find. These blotters made by the Waterman Pen Company were meant to be kept on a desk and serve not only as blotting paper, but also as a calendar!
Finally, we have fountain pens. It probably makes the most sense to advertise fountain pens on blotters. New pen colors and models were coming out every year and were surely worth advertising in as many places as possible.
For anyone who is a collector or user of vintage fountain pens, you’ve probably seen most of the pens and ink bottles found on these blotters before. Whether you own one, have seen one at a pen show, or maybe have only come across one online or in a book, they are still familiar to us by now. Can you imagine the thrill of walking into your corner pharmacy and finding a blotter advertising the latest Parker Duofold colors? Or maybe you had seen the blotter earlier and now the new colors are sitting in the display case? I think that’s why I like pen ephemera so much. Something that was never meant to last can allow me to imagine living in the Golden Age of fountain pens. I hope they captured your imagination like they do mine.