Legacy first! – Silvine Originals – a red notebook series

Silvine is a  British brand whose paper products are made in Yorkshire by well established (1837) manufacturer  – Sinclairs. The products line contains various types of notebooks, sketchpads, refill pads, writing paper, envelopes, cash books, etc. Silvine’s red notebooks line called Originals Collection  refers directly to the reinvented iconic British notebooks which had characteristic textured  red covers and were used and loved for decades by schoolchildren, artists, writers, craftsman and  shopkeepers in the UK since 1948.

Silvine Originals Collection contains five different size notebooks. This diverse collection is designed to tailor specifically different task and needs. It starts with handy Pocket notebook which can be easily kept in the shirt pocket and then increasing size gradually ending up at large Project netbook. All of them have common features, but each of them also differ from each other. I’ve already reviewed in depth ‘Pocket’ notebook (click here), so this following review is an extension to the previous one.   

Let’s start!

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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Part 5. ‘…If You Only Knew The Power Of The Dark Star’

Continuing my little journey with pocket notebooks I kindly received for testing from Pocket Notebooks (UK) I got hands finally on Dark Star notebook made by UK based company (in Wales) who creates hand made notebooks.

Dark Star offers few different designs. Pocket notebook I received is called Nomad. They are available as set of three and cost in the UK  £ 8.0.


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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Part 4. ‘Back to basics’

Clairefontaine notebooks pads and exercise books own reputation of  having one of the best paper around for writing and their products are well acclaimed in the world of fountain pen enthusiasts.

To celebrate the history of the brand, Clairefontaine has reinvented recently original notebook covers they made with a modern touch.  The 1951 Retro Nova series combines legacy of the original covers and beautifully smooth paper Clairefontaine is famous for, which resulted in a high quality moder-retro looking notebooks.

Clairefontaine 1951 Reto Nova pocket notebooks are available in six different colours and three vintage patterns:  ‘parallèles’, ‘nouvelle vague’ and ‘arlequin”. Notebook I kindly obtained for review from Pocket Notebooks (UK) is purple ‘nouvelle vague’.


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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Part 3. ‘Retro-story’ to tell

Story Supply Co. is a small stationary company based in York, Pennsylvania who creates an interesting  packet staple notebooks, sketchbooks, pencils  and other stationary related items . Basically ‘analog tools for storytellers‘ to allow capture great ideas, designs and of course stories. I like that approach.

Importantly Story Supply Co. has also an interesting ‘story’ to tell. They partner up with several organisations who support free tutoring and provide high quality programs to students in the neighbourhoods where support is really needed.  So, whenever you purchase notebooks from them, they will send a ‘Story Supply Kit‘ to a kid which might have an interesting story to tell. What a great idea! More about Story Supply Kit program you will find on their website here. Cool stuff.

OK, let’s talk about notebooks created by Story Supply Co.

The one I was kindly supplied for this review by Pocket Notebooks (UK)  is available as a set of 3 on sell under pretty good price (£ 11.0 UK or  $ 10.0 in the US directly from the manufacturer).


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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Part 2 – A British Icon

Among the other ‘stationary goodies’ I kindly received from Stuart at Pocket Notebooks (UK), there was a one ‘petite’ pocket notebook, which looked slightly understated and initially it did not bring much of my attention. Although,  over time I have learned my lesson – Do not underestimate small notebook…ever !

The notebook I misjudged is made by Silvine, an ‘iconic’ British company who makes wide range of stationary products including notebooks, sketchpads, refill pads, writing paper, envelopes, cash books and may many more. Their paper products are made in Yorshire by well established (1837) manufacturer  – Sinclairs.

What I learned (not being British) is that Silvine’s red notebooks refer directly to the legacy of the bold red books used and loved by schoolchildren, artists, writers and carpenters, shopkeepers since 1948. Recently, Silvine has reinvented these iconic British notebooks and and lunched them as a new line of products called ‘Silvine Originals Collection‘.

Notebooks from this line have quite simple and classic design. Simple cut, no rounding, nothing super fancy. Again, very simple, but elegant.  One I received from Pocket Notebooks belongs to the smallest Silvine line of notebooks called – ‘Pocket’.

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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Part 1. Grizzly Bears!

The first two notebooks kindly sent by Stuart from Pocket Notebooks (UK) I would like to discussed today are exclusively made for Pocket Nonebooks by Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork small US based company  (Dixon California) who does handcrafted leather goods and journals. I know from social media for a while now, but I never had an opportunity to try notebooks made by them. Amount of custom materials and designs they do is pretty impressive. They look and feel handcrafted which I really appreciate, especially if these notebooks can be used as an inserts for traveller’s journals, which I am a big fan.

To some extent, two ‘California‘ notebooks I received are very similar to each other but at the same time are also very very different. Stay True, Staome as blank, lined, grid, or dot-gridy Wild edition are filled with creamy TomoeRiver  thin paper (80 pages), whereas California Medallion cover if filled with thicker 28lb (105gsm) HP paper (48 pages). Notebooks I received came blank, but these with HP paper Pocket Notebooks have in blank, lined, grid, or dot-grid.

Let’s brake them down and see how they performed. However, please bear in mind that all my comments about performance are is limited to fountain pens and fountain pen inks only and I am pretty sure overall performance and writing experience will vary depending on what writing tool you use.

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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Prolog

Just before Easter, I received a small cool looking box full of goodies, kindly sent by Stewart from Pocket Notebooks which is a small British company who makes a great deal about portable good quality notebooks. The mission they have to bring back the power of hand written notes is very important and very close to my heart. The Pocket Notebooks slogan is:  Forget the App, there’s a Pocket Notebook for that … and I can’t agree more. This is actually why I am here dealing with inks and pens. This is why I returned to use fountain pens, which quickly became my passion three, or four years ago. I was using my tablet, phone and notebook as much, that one day I have realised  that I am missing something very important to me which I used to like a lot – a handwriting.

For heavy testing  purposes (which I did ! )  Stewart sent me a bunch of different notebooks he has in his store, made by different people and companies. Some of them are ‘big’ and ‘very small’ and here ‘small’ not necessarily means bad. Some of these notebooks are really good but also some are not that cool as they meant to be. But that is life, and I really appreciate the fact that I can compare them together side by side.

So, what I got? Well, I got seven notebooks total and I think they cover quite nicely a wide spectrum of different paper types, built and quality, which for me and as end user is one of the most important things. I got three Fieldnote size notebooks: ClaireFontaine Retro Nova, Story Supply  Co and Inky Fingers, then I got two completely different ones from Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork which have interesting size in between Fielnote and Midori passport. The last one is a fairly small but handy pocket notebook from Silvine. I will split this post into parts (likely 4) where I present some tests I did and what I honestly think about them.

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Taroko Design notebooks

Few weeks ago Mishka from BureauDirect, UK asked me if I would like to try and test very hard one of the A5 size notebooks (or A5 notebook insert) made by small Taiwanese company called Taroko Design (name after very beautiful Taroko Gorge in Taiwan).  I already had another two large Midori traveler’s size Taroko inserts, which I bought some time ago from BureauDirect at 2016 London Writing Instrument Show and I was about to review them too. I will call it as good coincidence .

What is very interesting about these Taroko notebooks/inserts is a paper they use to make them. Taroko uses incredibly light and at the same time satin smooth, famous among all fountain pen users (and not only)  Tomoe River paper. 

Taroko for their notebooks (at least for these I have) uses 68 gsm grade Tomoe River paper. Each notebook contains 64 pages ( 32 sheets) . The A5 notebook I received for review is made out of white paper. In fact, white paper has very subtle creamy hint which I really like. The two Midori size inserts I have are made of  white and truly creamy type of paper respectively. Because Tomoe River paper is available as blank sheets, Taroko is offering three types of press printed pattern they do themselves: graph (or squared), dotted and ruled. I must say Taroko did a vary good job and the patterns are very well printed and all lines and dots are visible but not overwhelming. They also offer blank notebooks too. Dots in A5 are evenly distributed and the way each sheet is cut makes all pages within notebook look very consistent. Interestingly, the line position in Midori size ruled notebook varies slightly from page to page. But this is very minor issue an possibly most people will not notice it to be absolutely honest. It may be also an older batch. 

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J. Herbin – Vert Olive and other


Just a quick update. My review of J. Herbin – Vert Olive ink is live, so please have a look. Possibly not for everyone, but still this is very interesting ink and colour.

There is quite few different reviews in the pipeline on the write up stage being very close to completion. These are (in no particular order):


  • Taroko notebooks with Tomoe River paper


  • J. Herbin – Lie de The
  • J. Herbin – Larmes de cassis
  • KWZ – Flame Red
  • KWZ – Grey Plum


  • Pelikan M805 (F)
  • Platinium Century 3776 (Soft Fine)

….so, stay tuned folks 🙂

William Hannah (England), fieldnote size notebook prototype


Week ago, during London Writing Equipment Show, I spotted slightly on the side, at the back of the exhibition room a jewel between all this amazing fountain pens and vendors. There was a stand with a beautiful leather covered notebooks. Because personally, I am a sucker for all types of notebooks, sketchbooks, travelers notebooks (Midori and many others), etc I decided to check this out and have a look. The brand represented by two gentleman is called William Hannah, England who manufacture absolutely gorgeous notebooks (I believe in A5 format) based on quite unique system of rings which allows to quickly without tearing put in or take out separate pages or entire inserts. The leather used for covers is very soft and comes in variety of different colours.  They are not cheap. The starting price is from £ 95.0 which seems to be quite a bit, however these notebooks feel very premium, including paper. They offer various different inserts/refills options including plain, lined, dotted, squared pages, diary, to-do-lists, weekly planers and year calendars. Pretty impressive. For more details,  impressions and comments about these notebooks please check William Hannah website, but also  The Pen Addict review and The Pen & Inkwell video review and the meta review at The United Inkdom.      

The product of WIlliam Hannah I am going to review, is different from their flagship notebooks, but actually much closer to my heart. On London's show I had a very nice and interesting chat with two mentioned gents from William Hananh. During entire show I was caring two of my DIY hand made leather travelers notebooks, which for some reasons brought their attention (thank you I was very pleased :).  When I was leaving, I have been given a small but very interesting yellow notebook, which perfectly fits to my Fieldnote-size leather cover. 

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The Filednote-size (3.5 x 5.5 inch) notebooks is not what William Hannah is offering on their website (at least at this moment). The yellow notebook I got is a prototype of the product, which company is planning to launch by the end of the year, and then might expend the offer by A5 size as well as typical for well known Midori's TN (travelers notebook) and passport size notebooks too. They may come as plain, lined, dotted (all in grey ink). The covers will come in various different colors, too. That is the plan so far.

OK, let's talk about mentioned notebook, built,  paper quality and fountain pens performance, which I believe will be a crucial factors for potential customers as I am.

As mentioned above the notebook dimensions are 3.5 x 5.5 inch. The cover is made of card (mine is in yellow), with I believe pressed, diamond-like pattern, which is nice to hold and increases the grip. I like this idea. Front side has printed in black spherical company logo, whereas at the back we find written logo and the the company's quote in the middle '#BecauseWritingHelps'.

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