Waverley Tartan Cloth Commonplace Book

Posted by Amanda Fleet on

"A what?"

"A Commonplace Book. With a tartan cover."

"Okay. Tartan I get... What's a Commonplace Book?"

"Well, funny you should ask... there's a little booklet inside it, that tells you!"

That's a summary of a conversation with my hubby about the book. He saw the new tartan book Stu had sent me and wanted to know what it was. Incidentally, he's Scottish; I'm not. We live in Scotland.

Commonplace Books were (are) scrapbooks where you could collect all sorts of bits and pieces - quotes, recipes, tickets, pictures... you name it really. They were used far more in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but perhaps Bullet Journalling is a modern take on it.

Waverley Books have brought out a range of commonplace books, in two sizes: 210 x 130 mm (the size I have) and 140 x 90 mm. The books are covered in genuine tartan cloth (from Kinloch Anderson of Scotland). The paper is 80 gsm and cream and the last 8 pages are perforated for easy removal. There are 192 pages in the book.
There's a back pocket (more on that in a moment) and an elastic closure in a complementary colour to the tartan. The edges of the pages are also stained to complement the tartan - for my book, both the elastic closure and the page edges are red (though not quite the same red). There's also a page-marker. In mine, this is a light, sparkly gold, which is lovely (and long enough to be functional!). The tartan on the book I have is 'Caledonian' which is a tartan you can use if you have no connection with any existing tartans (it's the same as in the picture).

Inside, the layout is a plain page to the left and a narrow-ruled page on the right. And it's pretty narrow-ruled at 5.5 mm spacing. The top margin is 11.5 mm.The paper is quite smooth - certainly on the smoother end, rather the toothy end of the scale. It's a paper more for pencil-lovers than fountain pen lovers as there was significant bleed-through, show-through and feathering in my pen tests.

The layout encourages scrapbooking, to my mind. Pasting in pictures or tickets on the plain pages, or sketching something, and writing notes about them on the right. It would make a lovely record of holidays or trips. If you want to sketch, you may want to check that the pens you use for the notes side won't show through too much and spoil your drawings.

The back pocket is more than just a simple pocket - there are slots for cards in it too, which is a nice touch. The pocket has decent sized gussets (fabulous word) so you can put quite a bit in the pocket. There's also a card giving information about the tartan used in the book and information about tartan. There's also a booklet with the history of commonplace books in it, in a variety of languages, and information about the Waverley company and some history about tartan.

Both sizes are available from Nero's Notes:

The larger size

The smaller size

I'd originally thought about using this book as a replacement for a writing notebook ('The Mothership' - see this post for details...) but I think, given that I normally write in pencil in my 'handbag notebook' that this commonplace book would be better as a handbag book replacement.


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  • Despite the caution on pen usage, this cries out to paired with a Macniven & Cameron fountain pen:

    https://goodwriterspens.com/2013/03/14/the-waverley-nib/

    “They came as a boon and a blessing to men:
    The Pickwick, the Owl, and the Waverley Pen”

    Roger Scoppie on

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