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Anderson Pen Company's Proper Pads: A story about paper.

8/9/13
I don't generally do paper reviews. I started this blog on (what I now recognize to be) pretty bad paper. It was just office paper. It was high-brightness, but it wasn't anything special. It was just what I liked to use in my printer. Heck, I even used notebook filler-paper for a few reviews. Yuck.

The next step was a bit more purposeful.  It was a random notebook that I picked up at a Target store. The paper was thick, and I figured that it would be good for fountain pens. It's really thick paper (dang-near cardboard), so there's very little bleed-through. It soaks up ink like a sponge, though. It doesn't show it off very well.

From there, I noticed that lots of bloggers were using something called "Rhodia." I checked out their dot pads, tried some of the lined stuff. It's not all that thick, but Rhodia is coated in some fashion that makes it stand up to ink and water and such. This also means that inks take a long time to dry on Rhodia. It also means that inks will shade on Rhodia if they'll shade anywhere. This is great for th ink, but it doesn't really show what it will do on papers that most people actually use. To do that we need something that isn't coated like Rhodia, but isn't notebook paper, either.

Ideally, you want a paper that is bright and smooth, but not too smooth. You want a little resistance or your pen skates out of control. (I didn't know this until I used Clairefontaine for the first time. It's too smooth for me.) You want that paper to be heavy, but not too stiff. There are a few papers out there that get it right. This post is really about one of those.


Proper Pads from Anderson Pens are the product of a lot of testing and experimentation by the Andersons. Lisa headed up the project about 15 years ago when she couldn't find any paper that was fountain pen friendly and not boring. She "spent a small fortune" trying out all sorts of different papers to find one that played nice with fountain pens and look good doing it. The paper they ended up with is a heavy 28lb weight paper. It is meant to resist feathering, spread, and bleed-through. I'd say that it is largely successful in doing that. The only time I've seen real show-through is when I've put a lot of ink on the page, as when I do a knife-smear to get a quick impression of an ink. You can see the bleed-through in the image below.



These aren't the same inks in both pages, but they're representative. You're really unlikely to see bleed-through when you're writing with a pen, though. Even with a wet ink in a broad nib most inks won't show much on the other side of the page. If you're writing a letter, you'll be able to use both sides.


Another nice thing about the Proper Pad is that the dry-times are really good. A problem with Rhodia is that it extends dry-time to epic levels. I don't know how anyone who is a lefty can use them. Proper Pads, though, dry really fast. I mention above that the Organics Studio ink I used takes 13 seconds to dry on Rhodia, but it only takes 2 seconds on the Proper Pad. That's pretty awesome.

The designs on the pads are also worth mentioning. When they started out, some of them are pictures of pens that the Andersons have, and some were pictures of pens that they wanted to have. They've since expanded to several hundred different designs, and Lisa is constantly adding more to the field of possibilities. They're happy to work with people who want something custom on the pad. Just contact them and you can probably get what you want.

 



You can buy it in notebooks, notepads, or notecards. The pads and books come in different sizes. Their website doesn't have as many pictures of these products as I would like, but Lisa says they're working on that. Their commitment to be at every pen show this year and the efforts to keep up with their pen business and their video blog (in addition to other full-time jobs) is impressive, and I'm inclined to cut them some slack with regard to posting pictures on their website.

Disclaimer: Anderson Pens gave me this paper to try out at no charge. No money changed hands, and my impressions are my own. I'm not affiliated with any company.
Post Comment
Chris Lott said...

Since they presumably aren't actually manufacturing a new paper, I'd be curious to know what this re-branded paper actually is. Any ideas?

Michael Matteson said...

No, I don't think they're actually manufacturing the paper. I'm going to try and remember to ask them about it tomorrow at the Show. I don't know if they'll tell me, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

I don't really have any idea where it's from. It doesn't really resemble anything I've used in recent memory.

Michael Matteson said...

I asked Lisa about the paper, and she says that she prints the designs and binds the pads. The actual paper comes from a local source in Appleton, WI.