Our object of the month for April is Margaret Nettlefold’s wooden ink blotter. Our curator, Henrietta, tell us more about this special object.
Writing a letter in the Edwardian period was, literally, a ‘hands-on’ process involving a fountain pen, an inkwell, and blotting paper. If you touched the written text before the ink was dry it would smudge, and even if you applied blotting paper, you could still smudge the writing if you did it carelessly. A blotter like this one was the perfect solution. The letter would be placed inside with the blotter closed over it, sandwiching it neatly between the leaves of blotting paper and eliminating the risk of smudging.
Margaret’s wooden blotter has a beautiful design carved into the front cover, and on the back her initials M. N. have been inscribed, perhaps by Margaret herself. Inside, some of the original blotting paper survives. Ghostly impressions of past letters can be seen on the blotting paper. We also get a glimpse into Margaret’s inner thoughts through her doodles. She seems to have drawn geometric shapes, as many of us do. On the left-hand side of the blotter, we can just make out the words ‘mist or fog’. What she was thinking about, we will never know!