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”.
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
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.
Memo – 159x97mm, 52 pages £4.50
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.
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
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.
Exercise – 230x162mm, 52 pages £7.00
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?!
Project – 305x200mm, 96 pages £14.00
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.
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.
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.