Blotter advertising Leslies' Shoe Store in Belleville, Ontario. Text reads: "Put your Best foot Forward and Regain the Joy of Youthful Feet Heel Hugger for Afternoon & Evening Wear Dainty & Chic Murray London Heel Hugger for All Day Comfort Stylish & Serviceable Leslies' Shoe Store 255 Front Street BELLEVILLE, Ont. Phone 553" There is a printed silhouette of a woman walking a small dog on the blotter.

Promotional materials such as pens, note pads and calendars are common sights today. One hundred years ago, advertisers had another way of getting their name onto your desktop. Before the invention of the ballpoint pen, everyone used fountain pens, notorious for leaving still-wet ink on the page, ready to be smudged.

The way to avoid smearing ink over your page was to soak up the excess ink with highly-absorbent sheets of blotting paper. Early in the twentieth century, advertisers started to produce blotters as a way of promoting their companies. The back would be used to mop up ink, while the front carried an advertisement.

This blotter was created to advertise the International Carriage Company of Brighton, Ontario. It features a printed ruler at the top of the blotter and drawings of the company's products. The "Choppy Weather" illustration is a copy of "Ships in a Storm" by Oscar F. Adler, c.1912, and seems oddly unrelated to the product.

Later examples were more sophisticated, such as this one from the Leslies' Shoe Store in Belleville, with its elegant silhouette of a woman walking a dog. This item dates from around 1935 and promotes  Murray of London's Heel Hugger shoes: "Dainty & Chic" or "Stylish & Serviceable".

The Community Archives holds a selection of blotters, often discovered in other records such as volumes of hand-written assessment rolls. You can explore our collection of these items on Flickr.