Notebooks are not something that are hard to find. There’s such a massive variety of brands and products around these days, that finding a notebook that suits your needs isn’t something that’s particularly difficult. However, there are those times when you want something custom, something unique; either to give as a gift, or keep for yourself.
Boy, this thing’s gorgeous!
Many of you may know that Platinum is my favourite pen brand. Despite their rather narrow range of pens, models like the President, #3776, and Preppy represent some of the best pens at their price point, ever.
This brings me to a rather unique pen, and one that could only come from Japan, the Maki-e, which was sent to me by Massdrop.
For those of you that don’t know of Massdrop, it’s a site that curates a bunch of superb products that are suggested by users. Each product must receive a certain number of votes from the community, and once it does Massdrop will get in touch with the brand to organise a group-buy. The best thing about a group-buy is that the higher the quantity, the lower the price, like buying in bulk. So, you get to vote for the products you want, then buy them at a reduced price. Win-win, right? International shipping is also very competitive, and can be as little as a few dollars for small items like pens.
You may be thinking, “Hold on, didn’t he already review this?”.
You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m duplicating my last post on Monsieur Notebook, but this one’s a little different. Since my last review, they have been trying to improve the look, feel, and overall quality of the notebooks, and got in touch with me to let me know that they’re bringing out a whole new range of “Soft Classic” leather-bound notebooks.
So for those that don’t know Kaweco (pronounced Cah-Veh-Co), they’ve been making pens for a while out of Germany, and have come up with some very iconic designs. One such iconic pen is this, the Sport. The Sport is part of a series of like-modelled pens that are primarily designed to be sturdy, comfortable to use, and small enough to lose in your pocket. Not only that, but they look unlike any other pen I’ve ever used, and I’ve used a lot of pens. If you ask anyone that knows Kaweco to name one of their pens, chances are they’d mention the Sport first.
Kaweco got in touch with me and sent a few pens for me to try. The Sport comes in several flavours, with a huge amount of colours, patterns, and designs in each. They don’t just make fountain pens either, there’s also ballpoints and pencils too. The range is pretty widely available, especially from places like JetPens or the Goulet Pen Company, and come in at a rather inexpensive price point (around $30). Of course the premium models, like the AL Sport, will cost you more, but you can expect the same (or similar) writing experience across the range.
So they sound pretty good, right? Well, let’s see.
There are few pens stranger than retractable fountain pens. They’re like a contradiction; fountain pens are cumbersome and complex by design, so why bother making one retractable? Well, I think it’s mainly because they can, but also because doing so forms one of the most iconic and unusual writing instruments in recent memory, whilst also making something so hopelessly practical that it’s a wonder why Pilot are the only ones to mass market such a product.
The Vanishing Point (VP from hereon out), or “Capless” as it’s known in some countries, marries the writing pleasure of a fountain pen, with the convenience of one-handed operation. Slip it from a breast pocket, click the button, and begin writing in one swift motion, and with one hand. What is considered by some to be a gimmick in fact enhances the whole experience of an entirely extraordinary pen, one that even without the capless mechanism would be fantastic in its own right.
So, it’s a noteworthy product, and one that I can wholly recommend; something I hope to show you in this review.
I came to a realisation today that I simply don’t have enough time in my life to review all of the notebooks I have in my shelf. It’s ridiculous really, an entire row of shelving is dedicated to over 100 notebooks and notepads of varying sizes. Some are common (Rhodia) and some are relatively difficult to find (Paperways, and some small brands), but they all need reviewing. Almost every notebook I own is unique and great in its own way, which really shows how much can be done with such a simple concept.
Anyways, this new series of posts will involve quickly reviewing three different notebooks in the one post. I thought I’d begin with some of my really unique journals in the first post, so let’s go.
Standard Number Color Pop Diary
Korea seems to churn out weird and whacky stationery as if it’s their primary export. This journal is no different. The cover is unassuming at first, just black with a faint grey grid on top and a color pop logo. It comes with a plastic sleeve to protect it too, which is nice, but all this stuff doesn’t really live up to the “color pop” in its name. However, this notebook is anything but boring once you look inside.
Time for a break from inexpensive pens and pencils from JustWrite, and onto some premium level notebooks with Japan-made Tomoe River Paper. These notebooks are the result of a collaboration between JustWrite and Olive and the Volcano Letterpress, meaning they are exclusive to JustWrite. Not only that, but they promise to deliver on a few lofty goals.
The first is an unbeatable writing experience for fountain pens, with silky smooth textured paper, high bleedthrough resistance, and no feathering. Alas, this is a goal many supposed “fountain-pen-friendly” notebooks have often failed to achieve. The second objective is to deliver this performance in a package that is thin and light, owing mainly to the thinness of the paper. 52gsm is the quoted weight value (note: Rhodia is 80gsm, copy paper is 70gsm), and this initially left me extremely skeptical of whether or not this paper could deliver on both these promises at the same time, as normally these two things would cancel each other out.
As it turns out, not only does this notebook range keep both promises, it does so in an exquisitely presented package that is certain to knock other brands like Field Notes and Moleskine clean out of the park.