Desk blotters are still commonly used in many businesses for stamping documentation. Although the popularity of the blotter is less than it was years ago, it remains a vital part of many companies. For instance, having documentation that needs to be stamped “draft”, “confidential”, “to file”, “for signature”, and so on, desk blotters are needed. The blotter actually holds the ink in which the stamp is placed or inked. Keep in mind that blotters are also used in other instances such as the craft of stamping.
The fascinating thing about desk blotters is that they actually got started for an entirely different reason – advertising. For instance, just as you see advertisement on matchbooks, placemats in restaurants and on billboards along the highway, blotters were also designed specifically for advertisement. During the 1920s and 1930s, people began putting their creativity to work in trying to find a way to get their business name out to the public. Prior to the development of the ballpoint pen, people used fountain pens. The tip of the pen was dipped into a small bottle of ink, allowing the individual to write. However, before the writing would begin, the tip of the pen would be tapped onto a desk blotter so it would not drip.
At this time, desk ink blotters were made from absorbent type paper similar to today’s cardboard. Again, these blotters were very different from the ones we see today. Because desk blotters were so widely used and inexpensive, advertisement would be added to the blotter so that a company’s name would be seen on a daily basis. One of the first ink blotters was made for a restaurant called Mother’s Cupboard. With the blotters sitting on desks, people would be encouraged to eat at this particular restaurant, helping to increase the customer base.
Remember, during this time, desk blotters were very popular, seen in just about any office. Therefore, the advertisement was highly successful. In addition to being an inexpensive way of promotion, they were a constant reminder of the business being advertised. The second advertisement was for a company known as John Quigg Radio Repair. Just 6 x 3 ¼ inches in length with a light gray paper, this family-owned business soon became well known and successful.
Another popular advertisement seen on desk blotters was that of light bulb makers. For this, consumers and retailers were given a very affordable blotter on which to advertise. So successful was this type of promotion that in 1998, General Electric, an assortment of 38 blotters was donated to a museum, many dating to the early part of the 20th century. Today, desk blotters are a great collector’s item, many displayed for fun and others worth good money.