The Rhodia Heritage Sewn Spine notebook in what they call black escher was one of the highlights of my week. It arrived promptly after placing an order with Wonder Pens in Toronto; and I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Liz recently wrote about the new lines of Clairefontaine and Rhodia notebooks they were getting in, on the Wonder Pens blog:
Rhodia and Clairefontaine products are made by the same folks, so there are a lot of similarities between the two, but these are both great lines – I love the sort of more natural and vintage style to them… Of course the paper is lovely for fountain pen ink.
Liz, June 27, 2017
New Clairefontaine and Rhodia Paper
Wonder Pens Blog – Life Behnid a Stationery Shop
When I saw her pictures, I knew I had to try them out, and the one that really caught my eye was the A5 sewn spine notebook. The notebook has two orange endsheets at the front and back, a front page with three lines for personal details—This book belongs to a fountain pen nut, that sort of thing—which backs onto the first of seven contents pages. Internal pages are then numbered, 1 to 152; with a notes box at the top, right-hand corner of each page.
And these are just the obvious details that Rhodia has been paying attention to. The paper is a beautifully smooth Clairefontaine off-white (I think they call it ivory), and 90gsm instead of the more usual 80gsm.
It’s when you open the book and lay it down that things really begin to impress. There is no other notebook or journal in my office that lays as flat and well-behaved as this does. If I played with it for long enough, it would probably perform tricks.
Or maybe not, but you get the idea.
The binding used on this notebook, allows it to be flexible, and lay exactly how I have only ever hoped other notebooks might. The seven contents pages leave a generous amount of space for notes. Which is useful, because whenever I have had notebooks with contents sections in the past, I have rarely used them. This is mostly due to running out of space before I’ve got to the end of the book. This book however, looks like it might accommodate even me.
The internal pages are numbered neatly, and clearly, at the bottom of each page.
There’s also a rectangular notes box (about 35mm x 10mm; 1.5in x 0.5in), at the top, right-hand corner. I’m not sure that I’m going to use these boxes though, I just can’t see me writing anything small enough to make sense in a box that size. But if you can think of anything you could fit in there, then this one is for you.
The last page of the book (like the first) abuts the orange endsheet, and given how they are glued to these sheets, I think they might prove a bit difficult to use. Although, given the quality of every other aspect of this book, that seems like a minor complaint.
Both external covers have an aged/distressed look about the finish:
And I love that kind of vintage appearance to some of the notebooks I’ve got, and coupled with that sewn spine, these books are really very appealing:
The sewn spine in close-up:
The spine adds to the vintage appearance, and makes these books stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.
Ink on the Page
When you actually come to put pen to paper, the 90gsm paper doesn’t let you down. It’s as much of a pleasure to write in, as it is to look at…
Feathering is almost non-existent, with bold, 1.1mm stub, and fine nibs, regardless of the ink I used, as is bleedthrough; meaning you can fill all sides of that paper.
Paragraph 1: Edison Collier, 1.1mm stub, steel nib; J. Herbin Perle Noire black ink.
Paragraph 2: TWSBI Eco, fine, steel nib; Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano (Ultra Black) carbon ink.
Paragraph 3: Sailor 1911L, 21K gold, bold nib; J. Herbin Perle Noire black ink.
That third paragraph continues onto the next page/image. Once again, I’ll ask nicely if everybody could excuse my scruffy handwriting. You have no reason to I know, except that I’ve asked nicely a few times. This’ll be the last. My handwriting won’t improve any, but it’ll be the last time I ask you to excuse it.
Paragraph 4: Platinum Balance, fine, steel nib; J. Herbin Perle Noire again.
Paragraphs 5 and 6: TWSBI Eco, 1.1mm stub, steel nib; Noodler’s Golden Brown ink.
It’s decided, I definitely like that TWSBI stub nib so much that I’ll be picking up one of their new 580AL (aluminium) pens with a 1.1 stub over the next few days.
Then that is it!!! For my TWSBI fixation, time to move on!
I still don’t like the filling mechanism though… maybe it’ll be less fiddly in aluminium.
A few close-ups of my scrawl…
The Edison lays quite a generous amount of ink on the page with that stub, but the 90gsm paper shows no feathering or bleed that’s worth mentioning.
The fine nib on the Platinum Balance is pretty smooth, and rarely snags on good paper, and this is precisely the story in the Rhodia Heritage.
This scan doesn’t really treat the Noodler’s Golden Brown ink very nicely. It looks a lot better on the page, and even in the (pretty poor) photograph above.
Regardless of the color accuracy, its performance was still excellent. I’m itching to try the 580AL when it gets here… and I’ll probably get another postcard from Liz.
Rhodia’s usual attention to detail, coupled with an upgrade to 90gsm ivory paper, results in a notebook that has unique looks and stellar performance. Add a binding that is attractive, different, and adds to the already five star quality, and all for sixteen bucks Canadian (while stocks last as they say); get these while you can, they’re simply amazing. And I don’t think those stocks will last long.
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