by Patrick Sweeney
Ink blotters are an interesting historical ephemera category that were once in universal use but have now virtually disappeared. Not only would typical 2012 teenagers not recognize a blotter, they could scarcely imagine a world that depended on messy liquid ink instead of ballpoint pens.
While they could be purchased as a stationery items, blotters were mostly distributed as advertisements of products and services of every description. The advertisements appeared on the normally smooth top side of blotters while the plain absorbent side helped dry the wet ink on a check or an envelope. Up until ballpoint pens became reliable and inexpensive in the 1950s, countless quantities of blotters were distributed over desks, sales and service counters like banks and post offices where they were stacked free for the taking.
The attached samples can only hint at the range of blotter advertising, produced both for national distribution and as well blotters with local dealer or retailer imprints. Like today's teenagers' disbelief at the story of yesterday's blotters, imagine a 1940's adult learning that a give-away Kelloggs cereal blotter was selling today on Ebay for over $400!