Elysee Fountain Pen

Elysee fountain pen review

Elysee was a pen manufacturer from West Germany. The company opened its doors in 1925 to manufacture gold and silver products, including pens. However, it wasn’t until 1980 until they introduced the Elysee concept when they produced a series of pens: 60 series, 70 series and 80 series from 1983-1991 and the 90 series which was later introduced in 1987. The factory was acquired by Steadlater in 1991 and they continued to make products until they ceased production in 2000. These pens aren’t to be confused with the S.T Dupont pen model of the same name.

Elysee fountain pen

As I said above, Elysee are now out of production and finding their products isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s certainly not impossible as they pop up on eBay every so often. Prices seem to fluctuate quite a bit – I think the most I spent on one was £20, but with the box sellers often ask for £60 upwards (however at time of writing there is an auction on a fountain pen and ballpoint in the box @ £21). I’ve found that if the seller is running an auction then it’ll go for lower end, while the buy it now prices tend to be the higher ones, typically in better condition and as I mentioned with the box. I have three of them, so they’re definitely findable.

Elysee fountain pen

What drew me in to the Elysee pens was the nib. The aesthetic really intrigued me when I saw it in a picture sometime back. However, it took me a while to find out just what the pen was. It wasn’t until I saw another picture of one of the pens and asked the poster what the pen was and any information they had surrounding it. All they could tell me was the manufacturer name, but thankfully this was enough for me to go off of.

Elysee fountain pen reviewElysee fountain pen 60

Nib

The information that I’ve found regarding the nib is that it’s “gold plated”, which I could’ve discovered myself by looking at it. So I decided to play with physics. For those who don’t know, gold doesn’t have a magnetic domain so won’t be attracted to a magnet (pure gold will actually be slightly repelled, but nibs aren’t pure gold, so don’t expect this result as a test). Steel nibs, however, will be attracted to a magnet. This all depends on your magnet. Scientific method everyone!

I found that Elysee nibs aren’t attracted to a magnet, which also attracted known steel nibs within my collection. So my conclusion would be that they’re gold and not just gold plated (note: steel nibs that were gold plated were also attracted to the magnet).

The Elysee nibs not only look beautiful, they also write beautifully. They give a lovely amount of feedback that makes writing with them very pleasant. Of the three pens in my collection, I’ve only needed to do minor work on one of them – and remember that these are vintage and preowned. They’re wet and the flow is good as you can see in the fast writing sample. You can squeeze out some line variation, but only if you really try. Otherwise they do feel very rigid. In terms of reverse writing, it’s very very scratchy and I wouldn’t advise it even for quick notes because it just cuts up the paper.

Elysee fountain pen writing sample 60

Design

I’ve already explained that I think the design of the nib is beautiful. It’s understated and sleek but Elysee managed to design it so that it isn’t boring. It mimics and works with the rest of the pen perfectly as well. This gives an overall professional and stylish pen — Montblanc who?!

Elysee fountain pen 60 series

Everything about the pen seems to be made “longer”. The cap is long, the section is long, the body is long – even the clip is long as it extends the entire length of the cap. I like this as it seems rather unique – and I also love longer sections because I have a rather odd grip. The cap is pull off, which means there are no threads either so you’ve got yourself a nice comfortable section, though it is metal so it might get slippery.

Elysee fountain pen 60 series

The clip sits on top of the cap and extends the entire length of the cap which further adds to the unique aesthetic of the pen.

Elysee fountain pen reviewElysee fountain pen 60 series gun metal

All three of my Elysee pens have different designs. I’m not actually sure how many designs there are, but there’s only one other that I know of, which is a brown lacquered one. That being said, I’ve only seen the blue colour with the greek key design on one pen. That I own. I think the most common one is the gun metal grey one.

Feel

I think the pen feels very nice in the hand. Though, it’s incredibly slim and this might put some people off. It’s long and doesn’t require posting, though posting is possible if you prefer but it is very back heavy. The pen is all metal and so for a slim pen there’s quite a lot of weight in it which gives a nice feeling in your hand as you definitely notice the pen there.

Elysee fountain pen Pelikan Souveran White Tortoise M400 Pilot Capless Vanishing Point Yongsheng 050 Wingsung 235
Left to right: Pelikan Souverän M400 White Tortoise, Pilot Capless, Elysee Series 60, Yongsheng 050, Wingsung 235
Elysee fountain pen Pelikan Souveran White Tortoise M400 Pilot Capless Vanishing Point Yongsheng 050 Wingsung 235
Left to right: Pelikan Souverän M400 White Tortoise, Pilot Capless, Elysee Series 60, Yongsheng 050, Wingsung 235

Filling

I mentioned how the pen is slim. So slim, in fact, that it’s difficult to fit a converter in it. I have had times before when I’ve been screwing the barrel onto the section after filling the converter and ink has leaked out of the nib because somehow you end up turning the converter piston with the barrel – so perhaps a push-type would be best used, but the converter that is supplied with the pen is a twist-type. Alternatively, you could use cartridges. The pen fits international sized cartridges/converters.

Elysee fountain pen converter
I wanted to show a comparison between the supplied converter and the barrel of the pen. The opening is wide and fits it but the pen tapers ever so slightly and this is where the problem lies

If This Isn’t Your Cup of Tea

If this doesn’t float your boat then it’s quite difficult to recommend an alternative. If you’re looking for girth (or.. Lack thereof) then the Cross Century I/II pens would be something you might want to look into as they’re very thin, though not gold nibs. I would suggest looking around eBay at Chinese pens as I’m sure you’re bound to find something. Two that come to mind are the Wingsung 235 and the Yongsheng 050. I would also recommend the 050 as it does have a rather unique nib that’s probably as close as you’ll get in aesthetic to the Elysee nib, as well as being thinner than the 235. Though, the 235 gives a more vintage vibe with a Sheaffer-style nib as well as an aerometric converter (though I do understand this is not limited to vintage pens).

Elysee nib Yongsheng 050
Comparison of the Elysee (left) and Yongsheng 050 (right)

If it’s vintage gold that you’re looking for then this will be easier to look for. Vintage Conway Stewarts and Parker 51s are always being sold on websites such as eBay. However, be careful when buying because they both work with filling sacs and on the vintage pens these sometimes might need to be replaced. So make sure it’s sold in the add as working – and preferably “restored condition”! The vintage pen market isn’t limited to Conway Stewarts or 51s.

Final Thoughts

For ~£20 you really cannot go wrong. You get a fully working (in my experience) gold nib vintage pen. My only concern and gripe is the issue with the converter. Find a converter that works well and you’re golden, but I really do advise to be careful when screwing the barrel on after a fill. A smart person would just use cartridges or a push type converter.

But I am too stubborn.

Measurements:

  • Weight total: 22g
  • Weight body: 12g
  • Weight cap: 10g
  • Size capped: 14.0cm
  • Size uncapped: 12.5cm
  • Size posted: 15cm

Handwritten review using Fabriano 90gsm paper, the ink is (supposed to be) Conway Stewart Turquoise

Elysee series 60 fountain penElysee fountain pen review

 

TWSBI Diamond 580

TWSBI 580 AL fountain pen review

I managed to snag the TWSBI 580 on eBay back in December of 2015. I won it on a Friday evening and it wasn’t delivered until the following Monday/Tuesday. It was a pen that I had found myself very excited for and to this day remains as one of my most pleasant new pen days. I wasn’t home when the postman delivered the package, but he got a neighbour to sign for it and left the parcel in my designated safe place. Almost as though it was foretold in the stars that this was a pen that needed to be in my collection – as it still sees regular rotation even in July 2017, over a year and a half since we first met.

TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review
TWSBI Diamond 580 inked with Kaweco Blue Paradise

I got into the pen community in October of 2015, so it was only a month after my first pen purchase (minus a few Chinese pens I had ordered) since really diving into the hobby. There are many things that made me giddy about this purchase. For starters, it was my first broad nib and all the other pens I had ordered were standard mediums. It was also my first piston filled pen and my first demonstrator. It was a many of firsts for me.

  • Price: £46.99
  • Recommend: Absolutely – This pen remains in my regular rotation after a year and a half. It’s a nice medium-range priced pen and the demonstrator nature is a cool feature.

Design

The most obvious thing about the pen is that it’s transparent. This means that you can see the inner workings of the pen as well as the ink sloshing around in the barrel (if you have ink in it.. Of course!) which I think is not only a super awesome thing, but also a super useful thing because it means you can see if there’s something wrong with the inside of the pen without having to disassemble it entirely. However, if you wish to disassemble it then you are provided with a wrench by TWSBI to unscrew the piston unit (as well as some silicon grease).

TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review

The barrel is plastic. In the past, TWSBI pens have been criticised as being prone to breaking. The 580 serves as an upgrade to the 540 – an earlier TWSBI model that had cracking issues. TWSBI went even further with this in the aluminium [580-AL] model which is said to add even more support to the pen. I’ve never had problems with cracking, but their customer service is raved about on social media, so I shouldn’t worry about having long term problems. I can attest to this after having to request a new Eco barrel after using KWZ ink, which was my own fault as I felt adventurous.

The cap is a screw-type with the TWSBI logo on the finial in a red background. The clip is usable but feels a little too easy to use; I would be very careful when using it. The rest of the cap is transparent, other than the inner cap which is a smokey grey colour. Pilot does the same thing with this smokey inner cap – I still don’t understand what possesses them to make this decision as it really does affect the look of the pen in my opinion. Have a clear inner cap and show off the nib, something that fits with the rest of the whole pen!

TWSBI 580 fountain pen review
Smokey inner cap (that needs cleaning apparently, whoops)

Nib

 

And speaking of the nib, it is a stainless steel JoWo nib. Something rather handy is that you can order replacement TWSBI nibs that will screw straight into your pen (they come as whole units) from your favourite retailers that carry TWSBI pens and it means that you can get different nib grades (or replace a damaged nib). Alternatively, you could go to FP Nibs.com (no affiliation) and get yourself a gold nib, if you feel yourself so inclined. The nib that I have on this pen, as I mentioned above, is a broad. I think it’s a respectable grade, and below I have compared it to a Pilot Custom 823 of the same size. I don’t notice any skipping or hard starts – the flow is very good, which keeps up well with fast writing, and it’s a wet nib (which I love!) For those who enjoy reverse writing, the nib is taken down to a respectable fine, but the performance of the nib isn’t sacrificed as I still find it wet.

TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review handwritten
Written on Fabriano 90gsm paper
TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review Pilot Custom 823 broad
For comparison purposes I tried not to use ‘too’ much pressure with the 823 because it’s gold nib and a bit bouncy

Feel

The TWSBI 580 is a very nice size, but perhaps a little on the light side. It’s larger than the  M800 but the same size as the Pilot Custom 823; two pens that I think are the ultimate pens. You have a pen that’s very well balanced, but you can’t really feel much of that balance. The model that I am reviewing is the 580, but there is a version that uses more aluminium and as a result gives you a heavier pen. TWSBI also offer these in a variety of colours, but I think it’s a little gimmicky and not the biggest fan of these different colours so I’m happy with my regular one. Each to their own!

If posting is something that’s important to you then I’d recommend the TWSBI Mini, because posting gives you an incredibly large pen, as well as a very unbalanced one. The cap also doesn’t post deeply either which makes it feel unstable. Furthermore, when posting you run the risk of potentially turning the piston (I’m not sure how the TWSBI Mini mitigates this). For this reason, I wouldn’t say that this pen is a postable pen, but I did include the posted length at the bottom of the post with the measurements as it might prove useful to someone.

Quite a few size comparisons below:

TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review Pelikan M80 Souveran Pilot Custom 823
Left to right: Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Diamond 580, Pelikan Souverän M800
TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review Pelikan M80 Souveran Pilot Custom 823
Left to right: Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Diamond 580, Pelikan Souverän M800
TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review Pelikan Platinum #3776
Left to right: Platinum #3776, TWSBI Eco, TWSBI Diamond 580, Pilot Custom 74, Pelikan Souverän M620 Piccadilly Circus
TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review Pelikan Platinum #3776
Left to right: Platinum #3776, TWSBI Eco, TWSBI 580, Pilot Custom 74, Pelikan Souverän M620 Piccadilly Circus

 

Filling

All of TWSBI’s pens fill from bottled ink – you cannot use a cartridge or converter. All are piston fillers, with the exception of the Vac 700(R) and the Vac Mini. To fill, you submerge the nib into the bottle of ink and turn the piston knob to suck the ink up. It works on the same principle as a converter, so you have to extend the plunger all the way to the bottom to suck it up. The great thing with a piston is that it increases your ink capacity. It does add to the cleaning time, but thankfully you can disassemble TWSBI pens to make the cleaning process a little bit easier.

To fill the pen you could also get a TWSBI Diamond ink bottle which apparently makes filling the pen is easier (even though it isn’t difficult in the first place). I think these things provide more of a gimmick value than being something of utility. Though, I’ll put up my hands and admit that I’ve never used one.

TWSBI 580 AL fountain pen review

Be careful when lending your pen to others, however. I have found that, for whatever reason, people are instantly drawn to the piston and decide to twist it, which results in ink being released from the nib.

Other options

The 580 occupies a nice niche in the pen market. It isn’t exactly a starter pen, but it isn’t approaching the £100 mark. The Platinum PTL-5000 is a good bet, and is actually a gold nib pen. It’s slim, so I would recommend this if you’re basing your decision off of a budget.

Other TWSBI pens that might intrigue you would be the Eco, which is a cheaper pen with a few aesthetic differences – in a word I would say more “streamline”. Of course, the aluminium version is an option for a little bit extra on top (~£10). Though if you’re looking to spend even more, you can get a Vac 700R for £20 more. If size is an issue then you might want to consider the TWSBI Mini which also allows you to post.

However, if you’ve got an expandable budget then I would recommend the Pilot Custom 823 or Pelikan M800 as I mentioned above, which are around the same size but heavier. Of course, on the flip side of this, if it’s just weight you’re looking for then go for the 580-AL and you might find your favourite colour! Be careful though, there are many colours that have been released in the past and are now discontinued, which can lead you down a rabbit hole…… You have been warned!

And finally…

I am glad that I got the TWSBI 580, which is evident by the fact that I still have it in regular rotation. Watching the ink slosh around and by viewing the workings inside, while not a mechanic or engineer myself, still does intrigue me and also serves as a nice talking point. The larger ink capacity does prove useful as well – especially with this wet broad nib. It doesn’t drink through ink, but a larger capacity certainly helps. But as a result I do not resent cleaning it out as it is fairly easy. Though, I don’t always completely disassemble it and I would advise against doing so every time, but it’s okay to unscrew the nib from the section, for example. All in all, a good pen and highly recommended!

Pros:

  • Demonstrator so you can see the ink and inner workings
  • Reasonably priced
  • Brand provides great customer service
  • Replaceable nib units
  • Well sized

Cons:

  • Pens have been known to crack in the past
  • Cannot be posted (if that’s something that’s important to you)

Measurements:

  • Weight cap: 14g
  • Weight body: 14g
  • Total weight: 28g
  • Length capped: 14.1cm
  • Length uncapped: 13.0cm
  • Length posted: 17.6cm

Writing sample on Fabriano 90gsm paper with Kaweco Paradise Blue, the nib is broad

TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review sample handwritingTWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen review sample handwriting

Leuchtturm Medium Notebook: Metallic 2017 Hundred Year Anniversary Edition

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review Pen Loop

Oh boy. That was a long title. Want to know what else is long? (behave) well, 100 years is a pretty damn long time. Three digits and a milestone that many wish to celebrate – here in the UK, Her Majesty The Queen even sends you a birthday card on your 100th birthday.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review

I’m not sure whether or not Leuchtturm got a 100th birthday card, but I’ll be happy to celebrate with the company. I adore Leuchtturm notebooks and the A5 are the best in their range in my opinion (I have reviewed the Leuchtturm Master previously which, while a good notebook, does have its shortcomings that are not seen in the A5 sizes).

The Facts:

  • Where to buy: Bureau Direct [Here]
  • Price: £16.50 (£12.38 as a special promotion price from Bureau correct at time of publication, 28/07/’17)
  • Page count: 251 (front & back)
  • Paper: Leuchtturm
  • Paper weight: 90gsm
  • Layout: Dot, plain & line
  • Binding: Glued
  • Recommend? Abso-bloody-lutely. I love Leuchtturm A5 notebooks so much. This anniversary edition adds to the aesthetic of the already fantastic looking notebooks. 11/10

When you open the notebook you are greeted with this front page which allows you to write your name, address, email or phone number – those sorts of things just in case you misplace your book and someone finds it. This isn’t for everyone, as I understand some people are a little bit uncomfortable with leaving such things lying around – but I am glad that it gives you the option.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review

The A5 Leuchtturm notebooks have become synonymous with Bullet Journalling, and for a good reason, which I shall touch upon further within the review. The metallic colours in this edition are fantastic. The metallic edition does run at a slightly higher premium of a little over £1 than the original lineup. I actually find this encouraging to see, because there must be something else that goes into these notebooks and it’s a special edition to mark a milestone, but you’re not paying an excessive amount on top.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review

Something that I always bang on about with the Leuchtturm notebooks is the archival nature of them. They are shipped to you with a contents page at the front; (251) numbered pages*; a pocket at the back to keep loose sheets of paper safe & stickers for the front (or back) and spine of the notebook for easy reference to the notebook.

* Eight of which are perforated and is actually one page (two front & back) more than the regular edition.

I think the numbers and the contents page really do work well with each other, and this is one of the reasons that Leuchtturm is the notebook many people recommend for those getting into Bullet Journalling. This isn’t only something that is useful for those who use a BuJo – I notice myself using it for my own personal journal as well. Instead of flipping to random pages, I’m able to write specific events or times in the contents page so that I can go straight to them. Someone once asked me what day it was that I started my first job – I was able to look in my journal at the contents and search for “first shift” to give the exact day. Far easier than flicking pages trying to find the right one.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review

It’s such a small detail, but I thought it’s best to highlight before going on – the fonts used for the numbers and titles are different from the standard line and the anniversary edition, with sans-serif and serif used respectively.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review Bullet Journal
A comparison of the two fonts used for the page numbers (standard on the left and anniversary on the right)

The stickers also aid with navigation. While all of my Leuchtturms are different colours, it will be so nice once I get a collection of different journals to have them lined in a book case with the spine facing out reading “Daniel’s Journal” with the start and end date on each individual one. Perhaps I’m easily satisfied, but this level of organisation, while not entirely necessary, gets me giddy.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review
With the metallic editions you have a metallic trim in the colour of the book you have. With the standard line, the trim colour is a typical black.

Another level of organisation is that you get not one, but two page markers – which actually come in handy. Originally I thought it would be annoying. It allows you to keep track of two different places in your notebook and it’s something that, until you have it, you never really realise just how useful it is. One of the markers comes in a solid colour which matches the front cover. The other one is the same colour but will have black stripes.

fullsizeoutput_ec2

Leuchtturm’s paper quality is something that I feel is somewhat ignored within the community. If anything, I find it to be a little under appreciated. I think that this is the case because it is a very specific type of paper that has characteristics that may either put people off or take a while to learn to love it. I think the paper handles inks very well. I don’t notice bleed through on the A5 sizes (I make this distinction as the Master size is prone to this). On 90gsm paper, one would hope it won’t bleed. One feature it does have, however, is that inks tend to show through; something known as ghosting and it is this characteristic that I think puts people off, but I love.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review
No feathering even with my fattest, juiciest nib – the ASA Galactica
Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review
Yeah? Hi, hey, hello. I’m ready for my close-up.

This is a feature that people either enjoy from the get go or may have to learn to love. I tell you now, don’t be put off because I mentioned ghosting – because I think this is a fantastic quality in these notebooks. Turning the page and seeing a slight shadow of the other side gives the experience of using these notebooks a little.. Personality. The previous page should not be forgotten.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review
Very slight bleed through on the ASA Galactica, but I put the swatch bleed down to writing on a perforation.

Leuchtturm’s paper tone is difficult to describe. It certainly isn’t ice white (which is my personal preference) but it also isn’t ivory or cream. It’s something in the middle – something I would describe as “dull white”. Though, I think the accepted term is “off white”.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review

The 100th anniversary edition comes in 3 colour choices, all metallic: gold, copper & silver. I’m somewhat intrigued as to why Leuchtturm chose copper over bronze, when thinking of things such as medals this is the other colour accompanying gold and silver. Part of this I think is because copper is an element, while bronze is an alloy. However, I also think that this detracts from the hierarchy of the colours. Sounds silly, but if the copper one was called “bronze” I would be far less likely to purchase it – despite it actually being my favourite colour of the three. Regardless, I think that Leuchtturm have incorporated the colour of these notebooks perfectly. The scheme runs through the notebook and not just on the front cover, which turns it from something potentially gimmicky into something practical and meaningful.

Another nice thing to notice about the metallic editions is that the colours aren’t plain like they are on the standard line. There’s definitely a level of metallic to them and an aesthetic that’s rather difficult to describe. Leuchtturms can be quite slippery anyway when you compare them to other notebooks and you would expect these to just fall out of your hands when you hold them but the feel is the same. I’m very interested as to how they managed to achieve this. If I could get this effect in blue then I would never need another design of notebook again; I would be sold for life. So, Leuchtturm, if you’re reading this – for my 100th birthday you’re gonna set me up, yeah?

The limitedness of the notebooks was something that I struggled to get a clear answer on. On retailer websites, it said that it was a limited edition, however, on the Leuchtturm website there was no information that I could find that either confirmed or denied that. So I emailed them and within a few days I had a very nice reply from a chap telling me this:

“…We can let you know, we don’t call it limited edition, we call it special anniversary edition. But it’s true, the metallic special edition has been produced in a certain volume.”

This is a similar thing to the Pelikan ‘special editions’. The pens aren’t numbered and there isn’t a specific number of pens made, they’re just made “until”, really. Perhaps a German thing? So just to clarify – the notebooks are limited but there is no limit on the volume that is being produced. I might be reading a little too deeply into this, but judging by the way the response uses past tense with “has” & “produced”, I would assume that these are no longer in production.

Leuchtturm notebooks also have the option to be supplied with a pen loop for a price usually < £3. I was lucky enough to be supplied with a pen loop to try on this notebook as I’ve never used one before. It definitely serves a function, but unfortunately not one that I’ve been able to take advantage of just yet.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review Pilot Capless

I wouldn’t feel comfortable keeping a pen in a pen loop in my bag as is – I would have to carry my pen in its own case. However, if you’re moving from room to room and just need somewhere to keep your pen during the transition and then get ready to write again, this is the perfect thing. The loop isn’t too obtrusive that means you can’t easily fit it into a bag or it becomes a nuisance but is there readily available for you to use.

I think it’s great that Leuchtturm offer you the chance to buy the pen loop separately instead of having it stuck on there without giving you the choice. Perhaps in the future there will be a notebook to which I could dedicate a pen loop, but a personal diary or something just doesn’t fit how I use my stationery. This is, of course, a very personal thing and I would recommend at least trying it.

Leuchtturm 1917 Copper Metallic 100 Year Anniversary Review Pen Loop
Very personal

With the metallic editions, you get the added aesthetic of having the element’s atomic symbol, as well as the atomic number (number of protons for those interested) on the square to which it attaches. What is reassuring about the pen loops is that they’re sturdy; I wouldn’t worry about wearing out the elastic on these things. I started off trying thinner pens such as an Elysée fountain pen and Pilot Capless. The loop accepted these so I went a little bit more adventurous with a Pelikan M400 and then even more so with a Pelikan M800 and TWSBI 580 – all of which the loop was able to accommodate. It was then time to bring out the big gun: an ASA Galactica. Once again, I was defeated by the loop (which, with all things considered, isn’t a bad thing). Though, I didn’t keep the pens in for a long time which is certainly something to consider.

The Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks are stationery essentials in my opinion. Their sleek and business design in contrast with the vast array of colours and coupled with the features and performance of the notebooks makes it unrivalled to other more common notebooks such as a Rhodia Webbie.

Pros

  • Easy to personalise
  • Archival
  • Suuuuper cool colour and design
  • Easy to navigate & perfect for a Bullet Journal

Cons

  • lol u srs?

This notebook was provided by Bureau Direct for review purposes. No other compensation was provided in part of doing this review.

Pelikan – Stola III

Pelikan is my favourite pen manufacturer – I think that the Souverän pens are amongst the best that you could have in your collection. While I’m not a beginner (I don’t think..?) fountain pen user, I was still very curious to see how the Stola III ranked – as it seems to be Pelikan’s way of getting into the beginner fountain pen market. So how does it fair?

Pelikan Stola III review

When people mention beginner fountain pen to me, three (I’m counting the two Lamy pens as one) pens spring mind: the Lamy Safari/AL-Star, Pilot Metropolitan & TWSBI Eco. So why isn’t the Pelikan Stola III in that line up?

Coming in at £19.95, the Pelikan Stola is cheaper than all of the models I just listed (with the exception of the Lamy Safari). However, if we’re comparing the models, it seems that on the surface, the price point is the only place where the Stola III comes out on top. Here’s why:

The Pelikan Stola III is only available in a medium nib – compare that with the EF – 1.5mm (1.9mm in the case of Lamy) nibs available from Lamy and TWSBI. And yes, I hear you – what about the Pilot Metro’? Well, while it also comes in a limited number of nib options, the nibs are Japanese grades and I think they’re far more beginner friendly than a German medium nib in allowing a user to find their perfect grade. Another thing that separates the Stola III and the Metropolitan is that the latter is available in various colours (and the Lamy Safari/AL-Star even more) which, again, makes it more beginner friendly. One of the greatest things about the pen hobby is how personal it can be from one person to the next and with different colours, you can achieve that. Unfortunately, the Pelikan doesn’t offer that.

One other thing I want to mention is about the filling mechanism because this is a huge downside to me. I wasn’t able to get a converter into this pen and I am certain this isn’t user error because I tried various converters that later fit fine into other pens. On Pelikan’s website, there’s no mention of using a converter, but it does say you can use “Pelikan’s high capacity cartridges” or “Pelikan Edelstein ink cartridges”. To be honest, I’m rather confused by this because it’s my understanding that Pelikan actually lead the movement in making the standard international cartridge/converter design. SI cartridges fit into the pen (the particular cartridge I have is a Kaweco small international) but for some reason converters don’t. Not everyone wants to use bottled ink, but I definitely think it’s useful to have the option. Why some beginner pens don’t come with a converter already I absolutely don’t know. Yes, Lamy. I’m also looking at you. We want to encourage more people into this hobby – let’s not make them think it’s a hassle or postpone their enjoyment because they have to wait for a converter to ship.

Design

The design looks very modern and sleek. I almost want to say industrial but at the same time professional; I’m very impressed.

Pelikan Stola III fountain pen review

As per typical Pelikan, we get the mama pelican and baby pelican on the finial. Another thing that is typical for Pelikan is the bill shaped clip – something I really enjoy about the Pelikan pens. Could be seen as gimmicky, sure, but I think it’s great. It’s different from the gold/silver coloured bill of the Souverän clips also because it isn’t a solid piece of material. It looks very Lamy-esque. There’s no cap band, but at the bottom of the cap reads “PELIKAN” in a more industrial font that is found on the Souveräns. The clip snaps off to reveal the section. The cap is aluminium.

 

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The section is larger than that found on the Souverän line (which is really small) but by no means large in comparison to other grip sections across other brands. Because the cap isn’t a screw type, there are no threads and the step up to the body isn’t noticeable and there’s nothing sharp. The body, in comparison to the cap, is brass but wrapped (which is where the name stola comes from as it means ‘wrap’ in German) in the same silver lacquer to give it the same aesthetic.

Now would be a good time to mention the difference between the Stola I, II & III pens. The former two are only available in rollerball and ballpoint, while the Stola III is available in rollerball, ballpoint and fountain pen. Stola I pens have an all black body design but with the Stola II the cap is silver while the rest of the body is black. It’s only on the Stola III that the body is silver, as well as having the Lamy-style clip.

Nib

As I said above, the nib is a medium – it’s steel and looks to be a little stubbish (though doesn’t actually write like a stub). I think the Pelikan nibs, aesthetically, are the best. The Stola III doesn’t compromise just because it’s a cheaper pen. The scrollwork isn’t as sophisticated and you don’t get two-tone designs as you do with the Mxx0 nibs, but there’s still a nice design and the Pelikan logo on the nib.

Pelikan Stola III nib

In terms of writing performance, I’m very pleased. Pelikan have a reputation for nib grades to run a little bit wider than the same size designation of another brand, but the steel nibs are an exception to this rule. This is a true medium and comparable to the Pelikan fine gold nib.

Pelikan Stola III writing sample
Normal writing (top) and fast writing (bottom) to show how the feed keeps up. Also a demonstration of the wetness of the nib (admittedly coming to the end of a cartridge) as well as the line variation you can achieve – at your own risk.

It writes a wet line and is very consistent with its flow, even during fast writing. It even offers quite a bit of line variation! It’s not advertised as a flex nib or intended for flex purposes at all. It’s a pleasant nib to use – I really do enjoy it and it gives a smooth writing experience. Perhaps a little too smooth. This is a personal preference, but I enjoy a little feedback when I’m writing.

Feel

The pen is rather heavy. Short and heavy is the best way to describe it. It isn’t a small pocket pen but definitely not M1000 size. Some might need to use the pen posted, but therein lies the problem: it doesn’t post. I think this is something to do with the inner cap inside the pen, whose purpose is to prevent the nib from drying out when it’s capped. I’d be wary of trying to force the cap onto the back to post it as you may run the risk of breaking the inner cap and that won’t be great for your nib when capped [insert witty line here about you never wanting to cap the pen “because it’s just that good.”]

Pelikan Size comparison TWSBI Eco Lamy Safari Al Star Pelikan M800 M400 Souverän White tortoise souveran
I gave the Safari (L2) to my brother. Don’t ask about the clip, because I don’t know either..

Pelikan Size comparison TWSBI Eco Lamy Safari Al Star Pelikan M800 M400 Souverän White tortoise

Uncapped you can see really just how small the Stola III is. The only other pen that I could compare it to would be the Pelikan M100 size:

Pelikan Stola III M100 comparison m200 m400But then compare this when the M100 is posted and taking into account the Stola III doesn’t post:

fullsizeoutput_e30I can use the pen unposted, but I think some might struggle and without being able to post securely has the real potential to put someone off.

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To conclude my feelings, I need to word it very carefully to convey my thoughts exactly as it could get a bit lost. Do I think this is a good pen? Yes – It writes well, I like the weight and I enjoy the design, but I am annoyed by the fact that it a) doesn’t come with a converter and b) doesn’t even fit standard international converters. Ultimately, I don’t think that this is the best entry level pen despite its economical price because it’s very restricted in what it offers.

  • Where to buy: Cult Pens (no affiliation for this review)
  • Price: £19.95
  • Recommend: As an entry level pen? Nope. Perhaps better for people who just want a new pen to their collection, perhaps from Pelikan but not necessarily a Souveran.

 

Measurements:

  • Weight
    • Body – 20g
    • Cap – 12g
    • Total – 32g
  • Length
    • Capped – 13.4cm
    • Uncapped- 12.2cm
    • Posted – N/A

Writing Sample: Pelikan Stola III with Kaweco Palm Green ink on Fabriano 85gsm

Pelikan Stola III writing samplePelikan Stola III writing sample

Taroko Design A5 Notebook

Tomoe River Taroko notebook review fountain pen ink sheen
  • Where to buy: Bureau Direct [here]
  • Price: £7.95 (other size options are available which are different prices. This is the A5 price)
  • Page count: 32 individual sheets
  • Paper: Tomoe River
  • Paper weight: 68gsm
  • Layout: Dot, lined & plain
  • Binding: Stapled (pages are not perforated)
  • Recommend? – For the UK market this would be fantastic as it offers a great way to try out Tomoe River paper. However, there are other options that are more economical (£/page) such as the Seven Seas Writer by Nanami. For us in the UK (and perhaps Europe too?) this might not be the best option due to shipping and customs etc.

I’m rather intrigued by the Taroko Design notebooks. I’ve owned the 124mm x 88mm passport size before and used it as an ink log, so I’m familiar with the notebook, but in a different size.

Taroko Design notebook review

There are many things that I love about the Taroko Design notebooks. The paper is 68gsm Tomoe River, which is somewhat difficult to source in the UK and is a cheap way to try the paper if you’ve never used it before. The quality is fantastic, but I shall get onto that further down. Another thing that really draws me to the notebooks are how thin the front & back pages are. Along with the 68gsm pages inside, the result is a very small and compact notebook – something thin enough that you could slip into a packed laptop bag or something of the sort with ease.

Taroko Design A5 notebook Tomoe River review pen
Is this still cool? You can use the notebooks for various 100% serious applications.

Tomoe River has a famous status within the writing community – and rightly so (there was the option for a pun there. I didn’t take it. You’re welcome)! When fountain pen ink is laid down onto Tomoe River the paper really does show off the ink in some of the most beautiful ways, and the most common way is through sheening. There are also a lot of shading opportunities, which you often get with less absorbent paper. So while the paper is great for playing with inks and the such, be wary of dry times as they do tend to be longer than other types of paper (I did a quick test between Rhodia, Clairefontaine & TR and the latter easily came out on top as making inks seem wetter). This is a pro and a con because on the one hand you get lovely wet lines put down that allow inks to really come into character on the page, though it also means you’ve got longer dry times and so if you’re jotting something down quickly then you’ll likely get ink on the opposite page when you close the notebook if you don’t give it long enough to dry.

Tomoe River Taroko notebook review fountain pen ink sheen
do u sheen bro? [Diamine Onyx Black & Sailor Hankyu Department Store LE Maroon]
Diamine Bilberry Sheen Bureau Direct Taroko design Tomoe River notebook review
Diamine Bilberry was written in a Pilot Capless [Vanishing Point] fine nib and I still witnessed a lot of sheen.
Tomoe River sheen Sailor Hankyu department store limited edition Maroon ink

On the topic of ghosting, it is noticeable, but I’m rather impressed because it actually holds up better to paper that’s thicker than 68gsm, which isn’t too shabby. I get no bleed or feathering, even with nibs that cry ink onto the paper.

Taroko Design writing sample ink sheen fountain pen tomoe river
Various writing samples with different inks and pens. The paper handles the inks phenomenally well.
Tomoe River Taroko Design notebook review
Shot of the reverse. Ghosting is obvious but there’s absolutely no bleedthrough.

While I’m a fan of the thin, somewhat delicate, front and back covers, this might not appeal to everyone. It does mean there’s a risk of tearing, bending and otherwise damaging the ‘clean’ look of the notebook, but does offer the opportunity to give it the “pocket notebook” treatment where the notebook does get a little beaten up which is something some people in the EDC community quite like the look of. But if you want to keep the notebook looking pristine then I’d be careful how you’re packing the notebook in – the thinness of the notebook is definitely both a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it and your personal preferences.

Taroko Design Notebook review Bureau Direct Tomoe River
The black lined notebook
Taroko Design Notebook review Bureau Direct Tomoe River
Dot grid brown notebook.

There’s the option for the Taroko notebooks to come in lined, dotted & plain paper – each paper design with a different front and back cover (black, brown & dark blue respectively). The different front covers makes it easy if you want to pick up a notebook on the fly and don’t want to faff around opening each notebook to make sure that you’ve got the right paper type that you want in that moment. Of course, this assumes you’ve got at least more than one paper type. It would be great to see the option to choose your paper type and the colour of the front/back covers – though I do understand from a manufacturer’s stand point where the logistics may not be that easy to execute. Even though Leuchtturm are able to achieve this, Taroko aren’t pumping out notebooks at the same rate as Leuchtturm to give people such a wide choice of colour and paper. For the same reason, this is why I’m not surprised we’re not seeing green or neon pink colours and only these three. Though it does lend itself to a formal and conservative look that I rather admire.

In what has turned out to be my shortest review, I’ll conclude and say that this notebook has many fantastic applications. It won’t take up much space in a bag, the paper is amazing so you don’t sacrifice a good writing experience either. It is also great for personal use – I have been testing this out at a local pen meet up that I go to roughly every month because of how well the ink looks on this paper when I am trying out various inks or pens. It’ll certainly make taking notes fun (or perhaps distracting..!), though if you’re taking notes then you may want something larger as a result such as full A4 loose sheet Tomoe River paper, but then you run into a far higher price as a result. If you’re looking for a cheap way to try Tomoe River as well as an easy way to source it (speaking in terms of getting it within the UK) then you cannot go wrong with these notebooks.

Pros:

  • Thin notebooks
  • Great way to test out Tomoe River paper – for a cheap price!
  • Tomoe River paper! Really highlights the characteristics of an ink

Cons:

  • Dry times are long
  • Damage to front/back covers may be off putting to some (but aesthetically pleasing to others!)

Disclaimer: These notebooks were provided by Bureau Direct in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own and I received no other compensation for doing this review.

Manuscript ML1856 Fountain Pen

Manuscript ML1856 fountain pen review United Inkdom
  • Where to buy: Cult Pens [Here]
  • Price: £125
  • Recommend?: For this price? Absolutely no way. It’s a step up from other Manuscript pens and is great pen – but the price tag that accompanies it is ambitious.

Manuscript is a British company that has been around since 1856. Being around for over 150 years, it is no surprise that this is not my first experience with Manuscript. I seem to remember always seeing their starter calligraphy sets in WH. Smiths and Ryman. The ML1856 is, thankfully, a step-up from these sets. With a price of £125, one should hope so – but I will get to that at the end. This is certainly an improvement from their other products, which is encouraging to see.

Manuscript ML1856 Turquoise Ocean

I got the 1.5mm stub nib. In the ML1856 range, Manuscript offers a 1.1mm stub, 1.5mm  stub and ‘handwriting nib’ options. The nibs are from JoWo in Germany and I think it is no surprise that Manuscript offer two stub nibs given their heritage. In my opinion, this allows Manuscript to pay homage to their past, while remaining a tool for the modern writer. This brings me on to the ‘handwriting nib’. It’s a medium nib – nothing special. The downside is that there are no (extra) broad/fine nib options.

1.5mm fountain pen nib review calligraphy

However, if you do want something other than a medium or a stub nib, it shouldn’t be difficult to achieve; the ML1856 fits a #6 sized nib and the pen is very easy to disassemble – this will of course add to the cost. But it might be something that’ll appeal to some people, as it means you can have things such as gold (or even titanium! (which I reviewed separately for my Namisu review)) nibs as well as various other nib grades. The new nib won’t be branded with the Manuscript logo. Regardless, even though the medium is a ‘handwriting’ nib, you can still use the stubs perfectly normally. Writing the handwritten review, I actually found that I might prefer using a stub in some applications when I have time on my side, such as journalling, to write. For anyone who hasn’t tried a stub before, I would recommend trying one from someone like TWSBI, who do 1.1mm and 1.5mm stubs. At any rate, I would not recommend just spending £125 on a pen with a nib, such as this, you’re unsure of if you’ve never used it before. TWSBIs are cheaper, easier to source and will be easier to sell/trade if you don’t like the nib.

You may wish to try a Lamy Safari stub, but I don’t know how they feel in comparison. For what it’s worth, I prefer the 1.5mm stub compared to the 1.1mm. In addition, I know that Lamy offer 1.9mm stubs if that’s something you’re interested in and not something I see very often. I’m not aware of how easy it is to find these nibs, so if you can’t find them listed with Lamy pens from your retailers then it might be worth dropping them a message.

1.1mm nib comparison with 1.5mm nib JoWo

1.1mm nib comparison with 1.5mm nib JoWo
Do I see feathering?!

The stub nib means you can dive a little deeper into certain types of calligraphy. In my opinion this is how Manuscript stays true to their history. Writing with a stub means you can get some pretty awesome line variation, which lends itself nicely to things such as gothic scripts. I think it goes without saying, but the 1.5mm has more line variation than the 1.1mm. This is natural line variation and I am not talking about flex. In fact, I have found this particular nib to be very, very stiff (as you will see in the picture below).

The difference between a stub and an italic is that the edges are rounded off on a stub which means you will have a smoother experience than a true italic, but as a result you sacrifice crisper line variation. I think it’s this smoothness that means you don’t get much feedback. While this might be great for some, I personally prefer a touch of feedback when writing. The nib is wet and the feed keeps up well which is important for the nature of the nib. However, interestingly enough, I found that when I tried a friend’s medium – sorry – handwriting – nib, I found it to be far wetter than this one. Though as you can see below, this is definitely a wet nib. In terms of reverse writing, no. Just no. It feels horrible and is slightly difficult, as well as being extremely dry after a while. I also mentioned in the paragraph above that the nib is very stiff. I could squeeze some line variation, but it didn’t feel pleasant to do so.

Manuscript ML1856 1.5mm stub fountain pen nib review
Written on Clairfontaine paper. Top line is normal writing, below that is fast writing and I see no skips; the feed performs well. Next I assess the wetness (very wet) and the flexibility (not much) of the nib. Faintly below is a reverse writing sample and it fairs poorly.

So let’s talk about something other than the nib. How beautiful is this pen?! In fact, all of the designs are very nice. What strikes me is that they all have a custom pen aesthetic. Below are three pens that I think look like they could be custom pens due to their design. However, it’s only the John Twiss one on the right that’s custom made.

John Twins fountain pen Manuscript fountain pen Laban pen review custom pen
Left to right: Laban Mento, Manuscript ML1856, John Twiss custom pen

This particular design, Turquoise Ocean, is slightly translucent. If you hold the pen body up to the light, if you are able to see the ink level in your converter, as well as the converter itself. I’m sure I will be asked – yes you can eyedropper this. I want to make it clear however that it is not advertised as an eyedropper. I also haven’t tried using ink in it, but I have tried with water and it seems to be sealed.

fullsizeoutput_d14
Do u swirl bro?

I do find that Turquoise Ocean seems to have a feminine look to it. This isn’t something that really bothers me. But to some it may be a pro or a con. But I’m not one to be bothered. I think the design is hot. Though, I can’t seem to help and think that something like “Sea Green” would be a better name. It isn’t quite turquoise, but isn’t quite green either. #WhatColourIsTheDress?

The furniture on the pen, and indeed all of the pens in this line as far as I am aware, is silver. But while I prefer gold furniture, I think it would overpower the body. As with my M620 Piccadilly Circus I shall, on this occasion, accept silver. But on other models, I think gold would be a great feature.

Next is the clip. It has 1856 with two embossed circles. Why the circles? No, I don’t know either. I also don’t enjoy, and this is being extremely picky, the font that is used. I’m not sure if writing the year that the company was founded in a modern font is supposed to give some sort of contrast between old and new? If that is the case then they should’ve used a nicer font than what seems to be Arial (or at least some sort of sans-serif font). I would like to see something more calligraphic or classic. But at least it isn’t Comic Sans, ey?

fullsizeoutput_d1e

The clip itself is somewhat stiff, but usable. Perhaps “stiff” is the wrong word. Maybe “strong”.

The cap screws off to reveal a resin section that matches the body and cap. It is long and flares at the bottom. Because of my weird grip, I do have my index on the threads, but I don’t feel them.

Manuscript ML1856 fountain pen review United Inkdom

If you are someone who wants to post their pens, this isn’t for you. Though this is already a fairly decent size and I think posting would be unnecessary(M600 size uncapped). Posting makes it even larger by the fact that it doesn’t post very deep and the cap isn’t held on very securely either. What you are left with is a golf club. Personally I prefer larger pens. but Manuscript can appeal to all writers with this size – and it’s not a small pen at all anyway. Furthermore, because the pen is resin it is lighter compared to others. If you are doing some sort of calligraphy, then you would probably want a lighter pen. This would be a great way to segue into the weights and measurements… But that’ll be left for the end.

Pelikan M620 fountain pen Manuscript fountain pen review
Birb

 

Manuscript TWSBI Eco Pelikan M800 Souveran Pilot Custom 823 size comparison fountain pen Manuscript ML1856 review
Comparisons between TWSBI Eco, Platinum #3776 (left) & Pelikan M800, Pilot Custom 823 (right)

 

If you don’t want the Manuscript but are looking for something similar then I would suggest you look into custom pens. This will drive the price up depending on what you ask for, but you could easily get something very nice for roughly the same price as this – and of course it’s going to be custom to you. If I remember correctly, my John Twiss pen (above) cost me £135.

All in all, I am impressed with this pen and pleased with how it performs in comparison to other Manuscript products I’ve used. However, I don’t think that I am £125 worth of pleased. It seems much of the price is the aesthetic, which is understandable up to a certain limit, but £100+ is above that limit. The pen offers stub nibs, which I think is great, but so do other brands; there’s nothing offered like a piston filling mechanism or a gold nib. As I said, I am impressed, but I think this would sit better in a price range of £50-70. I mentioned my Twiss pen costing £135 and personally I think it’s worth the extra tenner, but at a lower price I wouldn’t be as pushed to make a £85-65 jump.

Weights & Measurements:

  • Pen – 22g
  • Body – 12g
  • Cap – 10g
  • Capped – 133mm
  • Posted – 175mm
  • Uncapped – 120mm

Pros:

  • A pen that is very beautiful
  • Interesting nib choices – 1.5mm is fun to use
  • Feels nice in the hand

Cons:

  • You can get medium, 1.1mm & 1.5mm stubs for cheaper from other manufacturers
  • Price tag is far too ambitious

Handwritten review (Blackstone Golden Wattle ink on Fabriano 85gm/m2 dot):

Manuscript ML1856 fountain pen reviewManuscript ML1856 fountain pen reviewManuscript ML1856 fountain pen review

This pen was provided by Manuscript in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own and I received no other compensation for providing this review.

Silvine Original Notebooks

Silvine Originals Pocket Memo Note Exercise Project full collection review
  • Where to buy: Silvine [Here]
  • Price: Varies depending on what notebook you want
  • Page count: “
  • Paper: Natural White Wave
  • Paper weight: 90gsm
  • Binding: Stitched (& glued in the case of Project)
  • Recommend?: Each notebook has its own purpose. They all do well in their own particular niche. Considering the nostalgia and personality that you get from looking at the notebooks and from writing, I would definitely recommend these notebooks.

Silvine Originals Pocket Memo Note Exercise Project full collection review

When I opened the package from Silvine, I had an amazing sense of nostalgia. I remembered seeing loads of these notebooks around my nanna’s house when she would look after me as a child. I think “Silvine Original” is a fantastic name, because they definitely do seem to pay homage to the original Silvine notebooks but with new fantastic designs, applications and of course – paper quality.

There’s a real personal touch with these notebooks with a hand stitched spine. I’ve had these notebooks for a couple of weeks now and I haven’t experienced any problems with them coming undone or anything like that. I would take complete confidence because they haven’t failed me during my time using and testing them. The stitching is done with a very dark blue thread, which gives a striking aesthetic that doesn’t detract from the design of the notebook. It also works very nicely with the black bold logos on the front.

Silvine is a British company that has been around for over 175 years. They explain how they feel that “British attitude has been one of enthusiasm, innovation and endeavour.” They’re certainly working with that ethos even in 2017; they’re a British company and “proud of it”.

Silvine originals notebook review pocket memo exercise note project
“British made”

On the outside, you see the iconic red cover that has been colour matched “to the 1960s bold red” cover. The same one that you’d be used to seeing in the Post Office, your local shop or, hey, sitting on your grandfather’s coffee table (my mother has also expressed her nostalgia when she saw them for the first time on our own coffee table). The cover is 300gsm that has a very interesting texture to it; I’d describe it as ribbed and feels very nice to the touch. The covers do well. I had one of them in my back pocket for a few days just to wear and tear it and it held up very well. There’s some bending as a result of being in the pocket, which is going to happen anyway – it’s not a hardcover. There’s no tearing or damage. It’s what I would call personality or individuality.

Going onto the inside, you’re greeted with 90gsm Natural White Wave writing paper,  which provides some feedback on your nib. That’s something that I really love about this paper. I like a smooth writing experience, but I don’t want it so smooth that you forget you’re writing (of course, part of this is the result of the nib itself as well as the lubrication of the nib as a result of the ink). I know I made reference to this in the above paragraph, but I think it adds ‘personality’ to the writing experience. It feels more personal and more enjoyable. The textured paper really hits the spot for me. It’s white paper, but it’s described as having an “off white hue”. It’s not ice white like something you’d see in some Clairefontaine or Rhodia notebooks, which achieves a vintage look to the paper and I rather admire that. On the topic of the paper, I noticed across all the notebooks that the paper quality was very good. I mentioned it’s 90gsm, so that’s what you would expect. On some notebooks (such as the Pocket) I experienced ghosting. I’m not going to moan about that, because I do enjoy ghosting to an extent, but I didn’t experience any feathering or bleed through. I was able to write on both sides of the paper.

There are a few more things that go for every notebook, so instead of repeating the same thing, I’m going to lay them out here. All the pages are perforated, which means you have the option of tearing them out if you need. I had no trouble tearing out pages that weren’t necessarily the first page in the notebook. The pages are held in very well; I would not be worried about turning the page and tearing it out by mistake. Furthermore, the perforations aren’t very obvious. So if you do want to keep every page in tact, I certainly wouldn’t worry about them falling out. Another thing I experienced across all notebooks was that the paper performed very well.

I received a large collection of notebooks. To make it easy to sort through them within the review, I’m going to talk about them individually from smallest to largest. I will state the name of the book, the size dimensions and the number of pages. The pages are the individual sheets, so you may want to double the number in your mind for the number of writable pages.Because let me assure you, these pages can take some beating. You can definitely write on the back of them. I will also include the price.

Pocket – 110x72mm, 40 pages £6.50

Silvine Original pocket notebook review

The pocket size is a dainty little thing and you can buy them in packs of 3 (because three is a magic number). This is smaller than the usual “pocket notebooks” such as Field Notes, and I think the purpose of this is because it’s designed more for a “shirt pocket”, as quoted by Silvine. The pages are plain, which I think are essential for something as small as this. It gives you more freedom on the page and allows you to scribble things down on the fly easily and quickly without feeling restricted, allowing you to easily transfer thoughts to paper.

I wrote the writing in the image below at work (it did indeed become a very busy day..) and it shows a little bit of ghosting but nothing drastic. I’m someone who rather enjoys a bit of ghosting through the paper. There’s no bleed through that I experienced, however.

I mentioned in an earlier paragraph about carrying this notebook in my back pocket for a few days. It held up incredibly well. There was some bending, which was expected, but there was no damage to the cover. As much as I love the Pocket, it sadly won’t knock out my daily carry pocket sized notebook.

Silvine Original pocket notebook review field notes
Comparison between the Pocket and a Field Notes ‘pocket notebook’

Memo – 159x97mm, 52 pages £4.50

Silvine Memo notebook review

The Memo size is the next size up. It’s more rectangular than the pocket size, and larger than your normal pocket notebook. Silvine say that the Memo “stands true to the proportions of the classic Memo book” and is “still the perfect size to keep with you all day.” Which I agree with. I love my pocket notebooks, but sometimes you need something a little bit extra – Memo achieves this. This isn’t a pocket notebook and, as with the Pocket, it won’t be knocking out my daily pocket notebook carry. But this is something that would be brilliant to throw in a backpack/satchel/messenger bag/whatever people are carrying these days.

fullsizeoutput_c64

I promise that this wasn’t intentional, but Silvine state that the Memo “makes making notes, scribbling ideas or just taking down a phone number a beautiful thing.” This was something for work. The training I was doing, believe me, a nice notebook to write in was something that was well needed.. If “scoopy biscuits” is anything of an indicator..

With the faint blue lines, plentiful number of pages and an absolutely perfect size, the Memo will surely be a welcomed companion to your bag. This is probably my favourite of the collection, followed extremely closely by the Exercise (ohhh, the anticipation).

Note – 190x125mm, 52 pages £6.00

Silvine Originals note notebook review

The Note is a perfect companion to the Pocket. It has the same dimensions as the Pocket size; it also contains plain paper (but more pages than the Pocket). Being so complimentary, it means you are able to expand on your ideas you had created in Pocket and transfer them to Note.

Silvine Note notebook review
Do you like how punny I am? The birb reference is me testing out a new Pelikan I received.
fullsizeoutput_c59
Wanted to highlight how the paper handles ink. This is a very wet ink and there’s no feathering or anything of the sort. Actually get some very nice shading [Noodler’s Saguaro Wine]

Exercise – 230x162mm, 52 pages £7.00

Silvine Originals exercise notebook review

School’s out (well.. Almost) but these notebooks are in! It was nostalgic writing in these because I remember using Silvine (and Rhino) exercise books during primary school 8 years ago. Opening the cover to see the classic blue lines with a red margin certainly put a smile on my face. Writing in this drives home the vintage or retro feel. Sadly I missed the boat when it came to using fountain pens in school (don’t worry – my classmates and I still found ways to get ink in our mouths and down our hands.. I’m ashamed to report there were more cases of the former than the later) but I did put a Pilot G2 to the paper, which is what we used in class and mmmmm baby. Along with the Memo, I think this is my favourite of the Silvine bundle. I would wish for more pages, but then I would be concerned what it would do to the binding, so I think it’s worth the trade off. Just have to stock up, ey?!

Silvine Originals exercise notebook review
Took the time to do exercise questions during revision. I present the answers to the questions on d-block elements..

Project – 305x200mm, 96 pages £14.00

Silvine Originals project notebook review

This is the big boy. It can be thought of as a very big, with far more pages, Sciences book from the Field Notes Arts & Sciences edition. Grid on the right and plain paper on the left. This is a notebook for your projects and, as Silvine put it, “less of a book, more of a locker of inspiration,” which I think sums it up rather nicely. With plain paper on one side you can include illustrations, pictures/photographs, designs, whatever and then annotate and write your thoughts on the right hand side. For me? Well I used it as an excuse to write out phases in bacterial growth aaaaand something a little less academic with a random colouring in of the boxes.

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The only negative thing I have to say about these notebooks is about this one in particular. The Project isn’t hand stitched, but instead glued. There was some slight manipulation of the spine which meant that for the first few pages it was hard to lay it flat. While this isn’t a result of the way it was bound (i.e. glued) because I was able to lay it flat easily and comfortably once I found myself further in, but as a result of the quality control.

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In conclusion, I think that we have a fantastic array of notebooks. Other than perhaps a gap between the Pocket and Memo for a size of the pocket notebooks we’re used to. My favourite size has to be the Memo – it’s large enough to use for a range of applications but small enough to be very convenient. Exercise, as I said, comes a very close second. It’s traditional to the old school (ha) notebooks that I used at primary school. The paper is extremely well performing and provides a lovely writing experience. The off-white hue gives it a very interesting contrast which, given the story, I think works very well for this collection.

I would like to thank Silvine for the opportunity to review these notebooks. I was sent them in exchange for an honest review. As a result, all views expressed are my own.