Many years ago, when writing was done with a pen and liquid ink, soft sheets of unsized paper were used to blot the excess ink from the page. During the nineteenth century, the ubiquitous blotter packet was quickly recognized as an advertising opportunity for local companies. Michael Twyman writes “The advertising blotter, effectively a desk-top trade card and year-round promotion piece, remained in general use until the advent of the ball point pen, which in the period 1945 to 1960 progressively replaced the steel rib and liquid inks” (Encyclopedia of Ephemera, 2000).
Early blotting paper was grey and coarse but during the nineteenth century, a higher quality paper was used in a variety of colors. Pink was most common due to the use of turkey and cotton rags, which resisted bleaching. Queen Victoria is said to have used a red blotting paper but we don’t know for sure because each sheet was carefully destroyed. Graphic Arts, Ephemera Collection.