Last year we published a top 8 of our notebooks for fountain pens.
As I have spent more time with the hobby, my tastes have developed a little.
I tend towards double broad or stub nibs, and as a consequence, my script is pretty big. That partly explains why I burn through so many notebooks, and why I am using more medium-sized books than ever before.
Before I go through my favourite notebooks for fountain pens, the usual disclaimers. There is no right answer.
Pens, nibs, inks and paper are very individual. Personal preference is a huge influencing factor in choosing your favourites. The good news is that discovering those favourites is a lot of fun.😁
What are the choices?
1. Backpocket. Designed in London by an Aussie, Justin Avery and manufactured in Brighton, Backpocket has a range of pocket notebooks, all with excellent 120 gsm paper. My favourite is SpaceX, and it handles any ink that I can throw at it.
2. Darkstar Collection. Another homegrown offering. Darkstar notebooks are smooth 100 gsm paper, with a distinctive cross grid. We have a unique custom design.
3. Silvine Original. Paper milled in Kendal, Lancashire, and books constructed in Yorkshire. These are as British as Fish 'n' Chips. Slightly odd sizes but with the added bonus of perforated pages. The paper is 90 gsm, and is lovely to write on.
4. Calepino. 90 gsm. Made in France from recycled, certified paper. Lovely paper, lovely notebooks, a very cool company.
5. Clairefontaine. 90 gsm, brushed vellum. Smooooooooth. Extraordinary value for money. We have several lines, with more on the way.
6. Rhodia. By the same company as Clairefontaine. For many, this is the benchmark smooth vellum paper. In A6 and the awesome Goal Book.
7. Leuchtturm1917. 80gsm. Right on the edge of OK for me. If you lay down a lot of ink, then you will get show-through. Superbly designed notebooks though, and very fashionable now. Massive range, and of course, the Bullet Journal.
8. Off-Lines. 90 gsm, smooth paper in a range of small formats. The leather flips are classy, the material flips are quirky - but most importantly, the paper is awesome.
9. Berlin. 100 gsm. Wholly recycled. A little bigger than many pocket notebooks (which suits my script) and very well designed. These are functional, where functional is a compliment.
Specs are always hard to come by on Japanese paper. It's just different. Grossly over-simplifying, Japanese paper tends to be thinner, lighter and have longer drying times. You might love it, you might hate it. You should definitely try it.
MD notebooks are from Midori; the people behind the Travelers Notebook. Their paper is thin, but beautiful. There is some show through on my larger nibs, but the paper is made for ink. Nice bit of bite to the paper too.
85 GSM ish. There are several models, one of which has a cover in German. (Nope, I have no idea why either.) Naturally. Lovely to write in, but watch those drying times.
A relative newcomer to the the Japanese supplier list. A little bit quirky. Excellent paper though.
13. Inky Fingers
By Matt Armstrong of Pen Habit. The 'Currently Inked' is a must-have for all fountain pen users. Cracking pocket notebooks. Made by an enthusiast for fellow-enthusiasts.
Brad Dowdy is The Pen Addict. Both his blog and podcast are superb. At Nock, they manufacture fantastic cases for your precious pens and top notch notebooks and notecards. An addict that makes addictive stuff!
15. Story Supply
Vito Grippi. First of all, what a cool name. Secondly, beautiful pocket books. And now A5, soon to be in stock here too.
These are our Tomoe offering. We had them assembled for us (as Pocket Notebooks) by Curnow Leather and Bookbinding in California. Tomoe River is divisive. Many consider it the best paper out there for fountain pens. It is incredibly thin and light, and takes ink beautifully. It also takes an age to dry and show-through is extensive.
We got these notebooks because of their exciting design and covers. Imagine our delight when we discovered that the paper was incredible too.
For me, it is instructive that more and more makers are paying attention to paper quality. Fountain pens are on the march 😁