Monday, January 26, 2015

Blotting my copy book...

Well, I'm back, and I've learnt my lesson with technology - don't trust it (hope for the best, plan for the worst). I shan't ever get back what I've lost. Perhaps I should go back to pen and paper? There is something beautiful about elegantly hand written words flowing over a page of vellum, pouring forth from your hand in a way that shows up typed letters for the unromantic (yet practical) modern substitute they are.

I have started using my fountain pen a lot more at work and consequently end up getting ink on my palms and cuffs (esp because the nature of filling out drug charts and other forms means that usually one does not work from left to right and top to bottom, with the consequences that half dried ink ends up all over the place). The answer: to use a ballpoint? No! To make an ink blotter for the job.

It would be a very useful as well as stylish addition to my desk eventually, and could be made out of wood from a fallen tree from WBP.

The origin of the phrase "to blot one's copy book' does not refer to a blotter or the act of blotting. It refers to dropping 'blots' of ink on the page as one was practicing one's handwriting at school (yes, I went to a school where even at the age of 7 we were issued fountain pens and copy books and had to practice our handwriting). Though as boys we found many more messy uses for pen nibs and ink wells. 

But even the most adroit calligrapher whose page is blot-less faces the hassle of waiting for ink to dry, and thus the invention of the rocker blotter, and with it the inevitable stylisations that make the mundane objects of our lives treasures to behold and with which to declare our own affectations! Here are some wonderful examples of blotters...

Above: The Rolls Royce winged victory hood ornament turned into a blotter.

Above: An ornate (? Victorian) blotter.

Below: A sterling silver Napoleon III blotter

Below: A Faberge gold and enamel blotter.
Above and Below: Vintage blotters
Above: A brass art nouveau blotter.

Below: A modern brass reproduction blotter.

Below: A brown alligator blotter

The kind person at has published step by step instructions on how to make one's own here.

So, my friends Kath, Ann and Min, having got wind of my desire for a lovely blotter, decided to enlist our friend and carver Konstantinos (with the aid of these instructions) to make one for my birthday. He made it with wood from the walnut tree felled when the entrance was made.

Above and Below: My walnut blotter, along with my monogrammed writing paper, my Mont Blanc pen (a graduation gift from Peter 12 years ago), and some black ink (a gentleman should only ever use jet black ink, boys may get away with blue black - Debrett's.)


  1. The Rolls Royce winged victory blotter still looks very stylish to me, even though tastes have changed so radically since the 1930s (or whenever it was made). I love the fact that Deco car ornaments could be re-purposed for any other Deco objects inside the house.

  2. Hello Lord Cowell, and welcome back to the blogosphere. So happy to read the gremlins have been tamed.

    I too was recently pondering on the use of a fountain pen and have just written a post about it (to be published early next month).

    Perhaps if I too had utilized a rocking blotter, I would have been more inclined to stick with my fountain pen. How fortunate that you've had a special blotter made for you.


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