Do you know what an "ink blotter" is?

I was talking to my college-educated niece and mentioned in passing “an ink blotter.” She looked puzzled and asked me what I was talking about. It turned out she had never heard of them and when I explained what they were and described how they were used, she didn’t believe me, she thought I was making it up. So a couple of days ago, when I was out shopping, I asked the young clerk who was waiting on me if she knew what an ink blotter was. She said “I think I’ve heard of them, but I don’t really know what they are.” What about the younger Straight Dopers: are there any of you who don’t know what an ink blotter is? And for the older Straight Dopers, are there any other common items from your youth that the young of today probably don’t know about?

I’m a graphic designer, and I’m sure there are a lot of things I used to use 15 or so years ago that would be completely foreign to the younger designers I work with now. Rapidograph pens, adhesive wax, rub-down Letraset type, ruling tape, stat machines, etc.

Well, at 45, I certainly am aware of what an ink blotter is, though I’ve never used one.

But there are lots of things my kids wouldn’t know about until/unless I explained them. At a flea market a few weeks ago, my 7-year-old saw some 8-track tapes for sale and thought they were mini-video tapes. My 16-year-old is aware of the existence of LPs, but wouldn’t understand such terms as “platters” or “stacks of wax” that have been applied to same in the past. References to “knobs” on the TV always confuse them. Knobs? Who needs knobs when you’ve got buttons? What?

About a year ago, the same teenager found my original MP3 player, and had no clue what it was because. . .it had tiny little music discs! :stuck_out_tongue:

But some old things become new again. I remember working for a man who was in his 80s (this was 25 years ago), and unlike most of their friends, when he and his wife married, his wife kept working. But he always liked to brag that she was able to get dinner on the table in a timely fashion, by using a pressure cooker. And now they’re coming back! (in fact, I want one!)

Technology is evolving so quickly that I’m sure there are a million things that kids under the age of, say, 12, just wouldn’t understand!

I know what an ink blotter is, but I’m not sure I ever saw one other than pictures. I just read the right sorts of books, I guess.

Without looking anything up or reading any replies, I think it’s

A piece of absorbent paper used to suck up extra ink from fountain pens. I’ve read about them in books, but never seen or used it. The way it works in my head is that you write and the ink isn’t all the way dry but you need to fold or stack the paper, so you lay a piece of ink blotter paper over it and press lightly (without wriggling it, I assume, or it would get all smeary) and the blotter absorbs the excess ink. Didn’t some people also do this with sand of some sort?

Did I get it right?


How old is “older”? How old is “younger”?

I’m 31. And I know vaguely what one is, but have never actually seen one - read about it in a ton of books, is all.

This is what an ink blotter looks like, I have a couple at home although not as fancy as these ones. You can also use a sheet of blotting paper, which you used to get right at the front of a pad of writing paper. Oh, the glory days of Basildon Bond…

WhyNot is right, except that it’s not just for fountain pens: it’s for any pens using ink on a nib*, including quill pens and the sort of steel-nib pens that I learned to write with at school about 50 years ago.

*And “nib” is a word that I haven’t used for many years!

I knew what they were from books (and of course, that’s where we get wonderful ink blot tests–hurray!), but I’d never seen one either, until I clicked the link.

Yeah, my Dad had one like that, only it was plastic. He also had a fountain pen that dipped into an inkwell. Since he also had kids, there were a couple of incidents with bottles (they looked more like jars) of ink hitting the floor. Ink is hard to get out of hardwood flooring.

Are slide projectors old fogie things now?

You obviously don’t do crossword puzzles! :wink:

I am 34 and I have heard of ink blotters but I didn’t really know what one was until this thread.

Er, okay, now I have a young whippersnapper question…

What’s the difference between a fountain pen and a steel-nib pen? I would have (ignorantly) used them interchangeably. And does a quill have a nib? I thought it was just a feather sliced diagonally and with a slit on the bottom. Y’know, shaped like the nib on a fountain pen, more or less.

(I’m 32, BTW. Old enough to have a son who once pointed out a jukebox which held, “big giant huge black CD’s, Mommy!”)

Forgot to add my age…I’m 22.

I’m twenty-two and I know an ink blotter is, but that’s just because I took up an interest in calligraphy when I was about twelve years old. I never had need for blotting paper because nibbed pens weren’t my main writing instrument- I never used them if I wasn’t able to let the ink dry naturally.

I’m 29 years old, and was at a loss for identifying an ink blotter, or what it did, before this thread. I can, however, identify an 8 track or LP. I’ve used slide projectors for school projects, and remember TV’s with knobs. I also (gasp) remember when phones came with cords (although I drove by a guy the other day who was talking on a car phone that had a cord, and I laughed for about ten minutes - ohmigod, I thought, he must be a time traveler).

I own an ink blotter. Also fountain pens, dip pens and quills. And a bronze monkey dip pen holder.
Oh – I don’t have a sand or sand container.

Didn’t blotter also refer to the large absorbent paper that covered the center portion of a desk? Nowadays most of them have calendars, but back in the day they just bad blotter paper to absorb ink that bled through or leaked or was spilled – it protected the desk, it was replenishable and sometimes bordered with leather or fabric.


If an ink blotter is a piece of paper that you “shake off” some extra ink onto, what the hell is that “rocking thing” with a handle on top?

I use a fountain pen from time to time, and when I’ve just filled it, I need to shake a little ink off the nib. I just use a couple of sheets of newspaper. I don’t know what that rocker is used for.