Three excellent notebooks

Finding a good notebook to use with your fountain pen can be difficult.

You can of course go for notebook with thick really observant paper. And I recommend that if you just starting out. But it doesn’t look that good. Here are my three favourites; they all handle fountain pens really well, and have relatively short dry time.

Travlelers notebook refill(the none tome river variant), Leuchtturm1917 and Rhodia. All of them are excellent. Which one you pick depends on your needs.

I use at least two of them at a daily basis. My journal is a Travelers Notebook, and I use two Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, one for tasks and one for long form writing.

The Travelers Notebook is great for a number of reasons, it is really compact and you can customise it after your needs. For example by combining blank and lined paper. And the narrow format makes it very easy to deal with slow drying inks(when you are left handed), it also makes it much easier to fit the notebook in a coat pocket or something than a regular A5 one.

Leuchtturm1917 has my favourite paper. It dries very fast, and almost never bleed through. And they also provide some nice details, like always at least two bookmarks and make a few special editions. Think of them as Moleskine with good paper.

Rhodia. I love their Webnotebooks. The book binding is the best feeling thing I have ever felt. I’m pretty sure it isn’t leather, but it feels like it, if not better. And the soft give of it gives it a very luxurious feeling. The dry time is a little bit longer than Leuchtturm1917, but not by far.

My personal go to is Leuchtturm1917 because of their multiple bookmarks. But I will from time to time get a Webbie for long form writing because they are so cool. And I would probably switch if they started to provide multiple markers.

The size of ink bottles.

Ink is probably the cheapest part of this fountain pen hobby for most of us.

Comparing prices is difficult and a subject of itself(nicer and more expensive bottles, and huge differences in bottle sizes). But a cheap ink is around $5 and I haven’t found a single bottle priced much higher than $40 (I checked Goulet and JetPens).

You will spend a lot more on the notebooks you need to fill in order to use the ink, than on the ink itself.

If you are the kind of person that only uses one colour, and order another identical bottle when you run out, then larger bottles are probably a good thing. But it might not be if you are like me.

I’m usually sick of a colour, with a very few exceptions, after I have used somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of a 50ml bottle. If you have read this site for a while, you probably get that I’m a minimalist. I don’t like having a lot of stuff collecting dust. I complete a notebook before I start the next, and I don’t keep a lot of spares. Because I don’t like it.

What I want is smaller ink bottles. Because I don’t care if a bottle cost me 5, 10 or 30 dollars; and I don’t care if they are 15ml or 50ml, because I’ll spend a hell of a lot more on notebooks than ink. My desire for using different inks are a lot larger than my need for getting as much ink as possible for my money.

I write a lot, and I think I can complete somewhere between two and three bottles a year, probably closer to two. Which means I have to put some serious limitations on how much ink I order to avoid being in the “I have more ink than I can use before I die” situation. But I could buy a hell of a lot more, and try a hell of a lot more inks, if the bottle sizes were like a third of what they are today.

I assume that the reason there is so much ink in each bottle has to do with the fact that the amount of ink isn’t what makes it expensive. I assume they feel like they want to give as much value as possible to their customers. And that’s good, I just want the option to also get it in a smaller bottle.

A beginners combo.

Where do you start?

This is intended as a starting point after you have played around with a Pilot Metropolitan or a Pilot Pretty or some other kind of cheap fountain pen.

I suggest the following combo:

  • TWSBI Eco
  • Leuchtturm1917 notebook
  • Noodlers Bernanke

Start with either a medium or fine nib. You can always move into broader or finer nibs later.

This combo will give you a very good starting point. The reason I recommend this combination is that you get a lot for your money, enough pen and ink to last you for around a year, and a combo that is easy to start with. A medium TWISBI nib combined with Leuchtturm1917 and Noodlers Bernanke is something I know has a short dry time.

Dry time isn’t that important. But I think it is good when you start, because it makes easier to learn how to deal with fountain pens. Especially important if you are a lefty.

The ECO is without doubt one one my favourite pens, it is one of the three pens in my daily carry, and the other two is both priced at around $150(Lamy 2000 and Pilot Vanishing point).

A Rhodia re-visit.

It only took me a little bit over four years, but I’ve given Rhodia another shot. I tested them out back when I was too shy to bring fountain pens with me outside my flat. So my “outside” pen was my first Retro 51. And I thought the dry time with that pen on the Rhodia pads was horrible. It felt like I could take a cigarette break between each page.

But in retrospect, it wasn’t that bad compared to something like for example tomoe river. So, I ordered a dot grid orange Rhodia Webnotebook from JetPens. This got to be the coolest notebook I have ever owned. The material of the cover feels almost like a leather bound book; soft and a little bit of friction.

The paper in this one is the 90g version. I have nothing bad to say about it. It is more bleed resistant than my Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, but also a little bit longer dry time. But I don’t think you will notice much of a difference, unless you are really sensitive to dry time. Switching to a finer nib or a faster drying ink would probably do more for your dry time.

This notebook is so cool, that I might consider using them as my “writing” notebook, instead of a Leuchtturm1917, but there is one major stopping point: I have grown to really love having multiple markers.

I would most defininently go for “webbies” if you the combination of great paper and the best looking and best feeling cover.

Three inks for a very long time.

I have probably used Iroshizuku tsuki-yo in all of my pens that are in regular rotation for a little bit over a month by the time this goes live. I have used three inks except for some minor reviewing here and there since February 2016.

First I got the tsuki-yo, and I used that for about a month, before I switched to shin-ryoku, and used that until January 2016, when I got a bottle of fuyu-gaki and I used it until I ran out in the end of April, then I used the rest of the shin-ryoku bottle before I got back to my tsuki-yo.

I’m not that into switching inks all the time. The reason is that doing a proper clean is a pain in the ass to do that often. So I usually end up using at least half a bottle before I move on to the next thing.

Three excellent inks, but the only one of the three that I know for certain that I will re-purchase is the tsuki-yo. The shading is much more interesting, and it is kind of like black, as in that you never get bored by it.