Either the wallpaper goes, or I do

by Scribble Monboddo

Oscar Wilde supposedly bowed out with the ultimatum; “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” It's probably an apocryphal tale, but apparently he really couldn't stand William Morris's floral paper designs. Either that, or for some reason he didn't see how all the talk about social reform might one day be to his advantage. 

Fortunately for us, one's attitude to the Arts and Crafts movement needn't mar appreciation of the anagrammatic Esmie (Extraordinary Stationery Made In England), because they riff on themes which go back far further. A good century before William Morris was doing his thing, paper printed with floral designs was all the rage across Europe, as were textiles, although somewhat confusingly the generic term for such product was usually Chinoiserie. Esmie's covers are printed in Japan, but Japonoiserie was generally a term reserved for furniture, including writing bureaus, which all gets far too complicated.

Even more fortunately, Esmie continue to work with a family firm of silk-screen printers in Kyoto, and regardless of what muddled western label we might apply the results are terrific.

So, is it any good as a practical notebook? It depends a little on your scribbling tool of choice. Very wet fountain pens may be a little de trop, but an everyday jotter is probably going to be fine, and graphite absolutely loves the paper. Plus, whatever, the jottings within, the cover will make you look like you're just popping out to tea with Gertrude Jekyll, and there are few more cultivated positions than that...