Thursday, December 12, 2013

Black n' Red Notebook

Writing with fountain pens in notebooks present problems of its own, as most of the are not really designed for this. Bleeding through and feathering are often problems. I am not the only one who has experienced serious problem with the "famous" Moleskine Brand that starts at around $15.00 on Amazon. Luckily there are alternatives that are a lot cheaper. I am thinking especially of the Black n'Red Din-A 5 notebooks (Black n' Red Casebound Notebook, Ruled, 8 1/4 x 5 7/8 Inches, White, 96 Sheets per Pad (E66857)). They are sturdily bound and even the wettest fountain pen does not leak or feather. The reason is not that the paper is better than the one you encounter in a Moleskine or other brands, but rather that it is coated. It is similar to the kind of paper used in German exercise books that I first encountered in the German exercise books during the fifties. It is perhaps also slightly thicker. You cannot even see the outlines of the writing on the other side of the page (as you can, for instance in Mead notebooks which also are made of paper coated in some way).

In any case, they are very serviceable and sell for $4.88 as an add-on item on Amazon. I highly recommend them.

Mind you, they have one disadvantage when used with fountain pens. The ink takes longer to dry than on uncoated paper. For this reason, I would recommend Löschpapier (blotting paper) as a place holder. This is not easily available in the U.S.A., but it is included in almost every cheap exercise book in Germany (because pupils actually still have to use fountain pens). One sheet will last for a very long time. If you do not have blotting paper, you just have to wait for a second or two before turning the page (which may be good for thinking).

I have no idea why the second-to-last page contains maps for the New York, Washington, and Chicago subway systems. I glue an envelope there to use for loos papers.


Gunther said...

Somewhat related: A few days ago I got my second calender/notebook (a Hobonichi Planner, by the way) with 52gsm Tomoe River paper and can see now why fountain pen users are fascinated by this paper. I don't use fountain pens but Pilot Parallel Pens for calligraphy now and then. These pens have very wide nibs (1.6-6mm) but even with these there is neither feathering nor bleading – just amazing (and the time the ink takes to dry is not too long).

Michael Leddy said...

No problems here with fountain pens and Moleskines, but so much depends upon the combination of pen and ink. A Pelikan pen with Sheaffer ink: feathering on any paper, as I discovered years ago. But with Pelikan ink: perfect.

The look of the Black n' Red reminds me of Chinese notebooks that I bought many years ago — ridiculously cheap, but surprisingly durable and great for writing.

MK said...

Thank you for both of your comments.

The planner looks very interesting. I am honored by your comments, Gunther, as I have admired your blog for a long time. I don't use ordinary pencils, but I use and collect mechanical pencils.

Michael, the Black n' Red are MUCH better than the cheap Chinese Kladden ("Chinakladden" in German parlance), however. (I have three or four notebooks from long ago that I kept in the Chinese cheapies.) I regularly check your blog as well.

Gunther said...

Thank you for your kind words, Manfred. I use (and collect) mechanical pencils too but over the years my focus has changed a little. – I follow your blog with great interest!

Anonymous said...

Hello MK, may I ask you a favour? Could you re-enable your search box? I recall having searched your blog for information in the past but now I seem to be unable to find the search facility. Cheers!

MK said...

But it is still there—at the upper left corner (with a red B for Blogger in front of it).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply. I just realised that it was my AdBlock Plus Firefox add-on that blocked the entire Blogger header. I've unblocked it now and can see it. Sorry for the bother.

Frank Hirtz said...

I discovered some two years ago the notebooks by 'Leuchtturm' and since recently they seem also to be available in the USA. I prefer them over the Moleskin exactly for the pen/fountain-pen/transparency reasons mentioned in your exchange. Furthermore, they have page numbers and the final 10 pages or so can be easily ripped out in case you want to give someone a note.
Happy festive days and best for 2014.