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.
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.
About a week ago the guys at Pen Chalet contacted me to see if I would give an honest review of the Pilot Knight fountain pen. I’ve been a long time fan of Pilot pens in general, so naturally I said yes.
I know a bit about the Knight, but in particular I know that this pen houses the same nib assembly found on the cheap 78G, the mid-range Prera, and a few other sub-$100 Pilot pens. I think it would be suitable to see how the Knight stacks up, and just give you my thoughts on this pen in general.
Rapid fire reviews are quick and dirty reviews. Normally I write a bible’s worth of words in each review, so if you prefer shorter posts, here we go.
Palomino Blackwing 602
The Blackwing was a legendary pencil from way back with a cult status as the best ever made. They are so rare that a single pencil can go for upwards of $100, even used. Palomino hoped to recreate this masterpiece in their line of Blackwings, and whilst some would have you believe they’re utter crap compared to the real deal, I think they’re just nice pencils in general.
Now n Then contacted me recently, wondering if I’d like to get my hands on their Eco Essential pen and pencil they successfully funded on Kickstarter. Of course I said yes.
Now n Then comes from Ishuja, a group of three guys with some pretty interesting product ideas. Based in Taiwan, the three of them put their heads together to make some beautiful pens. Their latest, the Retro Essential pen, well exceeded the funding goal last month, so go check out what they’ve been doing lately on Kickstarter here.
The Eco Essential pen was funded mid-last year, and the pencil a few months after that. It’s obvious that people love the cool design and modern functions of these pens, and they’ve consistently raised many times their goal figure for their projects. So, are they deserving of all this support? Let’s see.
Check out the video review below, and read on to see my detailed thoughts on this set.