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Write Notepads & Co

12/6/13
Audrey and I first met Chris and Marc at the DC Pen Show this last August. They were in the front atrium, and they had a very stylish display of notebooks that I'd never seen before. As it turns out, I hadn't seen them before because the DC Show was their soft launch. They're 3rd generation bookbinders from Baltimore, and Chris has used fountain pens since high school. He was already binding books, so notepads seemed like a logical progression.

Each notepad, we were told, is made and checked by them and an adorable dog (that they should have brought to the show). Also, they donate a notepad to a Baltimore school for every notepad that is bought. There's a number inside that you will be able to plug into their website which will tell you where your donated book has ended up. Neat.

DC Pen Show Write Notepads
Marc and Chris from Write Notepads & Co.
I liked their style, so I was going to buy several of their notepads for review (and use). Instead, Chris comes out from behind the table, hands me a fist full of notepads, and tells me to just let him know what I think. I wasn't expecting that, and I've been waiting for their website to go live before I talked about these so that people can link over and buy some notepads. That time is now.

The Look

This one one of the first things that drew me to these notepads. They've got a sort of rugged, old-timey look to them that really appeals to me. The front and back covers are a heavy paperboard that is made from 100% post-consumer waste. The logos and text are letterpressed into the covers. The binding is brass (I think), and those rings don't ever catch the pages or bind up. The pages inside are made from FSC certified stocks, and the ink is vegetable-based. The big rubber band on the outside is also made from recycled materials. The whole thing smacks of quality.

It's the sort of anachronistic style that should really appeal to people (like us) who are into fountain pens.

Write Notepads


Write Notepads

Write Notepads Notebook

Write Notepads Notebook



The Paper

That environmentally-friendly paper is thick and a bit stiff. You're unlikely to tear it accidentally. You can see the texture in this paper in a way that is pleasing to the eye. It's not quite white. I'd say it's very slightly off-white, but not ivory or any other particular color. The lines are printed in a dark grey color that you can see is just about the same color as the Mont Blanc Einstein ink in the picture below.

Write Notepads Notebook

That bit of text tells you a little about what to expect from this paper. I've tried all sorts of pens on it, and it performs really well. In this picture you can see a wide range of inks and pens used on a Write Pad

Write Notepads Notebook
 The wettest of these combinations are the Parker 51 with Aurora Black, Bleu Nuit in my Pelikano, Habanero in my Javelin, and Organics Studio's Jules Verne in my Franklin-Christoph's broad stub. All of those inks had some spread on this paper, but only the Bleu Nuit and Verne really bled through to the other side. The Pelikano is one of those pens that just runs really wet, and I'm not surprised that there was some bleed from that pen. Jules Verne is a pretty bleedy ink and, even though I like the color, I'm not surprised to see it bleed through either. I'm a little surprised that Habanero came through, but the Javelin is a fairly wet nib, as well.
Write Notepads Notebook

On the other hand, Aurora Black didn't have much more than a ghost showing through. I'd say that this paper stands up to the sort of fountain pen use that most of us would put it to. Here are some more images.

Write Notepads Notebook


Write Notepads Notebook

Write Notepads Notebook

Write Notepads Notebook


Write Notepads Notebook

Write Notepads Notebook

I used my Parker 51 (as well as other pens) again in the above images because it has a pretty wet nib, and Aurora is a bleeding ink, but I think the results are just fine. Even with this amount of ghosting I would be able to use both sides of these pages. The green you see there is Private Reserve's Supershow Green. It's also a bit prone to show-through.

If I have to find a downside to this paper, I would say that it isn't going to stand up all that well to really wet inks, so that might limit your use of dip pens or flex nibs. It's not going to be a problem for most people, though.
The other possible problem is that the perforations at the edge of the page aren't quite deep enough. I haven't been able to tear out a page cleanly, yet. I don't know if that's a real problem, but I guess I can see some people being frustrated by having to tear off the edge after you remove the page from the book.

Paul South Notepads

Are you a lefty? If so, then there's a series of notepads for you! Chris says:

"I myself am a proud lefty, many of my close friends are lefties.  I had fielded the question "...Are you going to make a left-handed version?" on several occasions from friends.  Of course a lefty book is basically a book with a right-edge bind.  One day while printing covers, I had loaded the lift into the press the wrong way, therefore rendering a few "backwards".  I had joked that these would be for the lefty books.  I then realized that it wasn't much of a joke, but actually the perfect time to pay tribute to my fellow lefties.  I knew it couldn't simply be a regular Write Notepad bound on the opposite side, it needed a personality of its own.  That's when the Paul South concept was born.  Paul South is of course a play on the term South-paw.  I figured a prolific, albeit fictitious, needed to stand out - be bold.  Enter the figure present on all of our left-handed products.  There will be far more to come on the Paul South story...stay tuned!"

Write Notepads Notebook

That's a Paul South on the left in the picture above. That Paul South is a character. Check out the Leia Organa haircut. Almost makes me wish I were a lefty.


The Bottom Line

Pros:
  • Rugged good looks.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Notepads get donated to kids in need.
  • Handmade quality.
  • Pretty excellent paper.
Cons:

  • Pricey.
  • Pages a little hard to tear out.


I can recommend these notepads without hesitation. They're good for fountain pens and all sorts of other pens. The notepad itself stands up well to use. You probably can't tell, but the one I've shown here has lived in my backpack since August and it doesn't show any wear. I've used it outside while taking notes on where I should put plants that my Aunt was giving me for my yard, and I know it got some water and soil on it. It brushed right off.

Buy these if you are looking for a notepad that is going to last you a while. It's responsibly produced by some good guys in Baltimore, and your purchase helps buy notepads for school kids in disadvantaged areas of Baltimore.

Pop on over and tell 'em I sent you. (I mean, it isn't going to get either of us anything, but that sounds like a neighborly thing to say.)

Nico might even quality check your notepads for you.
Write Notepads Notebook

One last note: Chris is going to be sponsoring a give-away on Inkdependence in the very near future. I'm just waiting on the mail to see what he is giving me to give away. Keep an eye on the blog for that Give-Away!


**These notebooks were given to me free of charge, but the review and opinions therein are all mine. No money changed hands.**
Post Comment
Davey Moyers said...

That was a really cool story Mike with a nice backstory on the "Paul South". Thanks for sharing and I think I'll two for presents this year. Or three - one for me to try out as well. Cheers!

Michael Matteson said...

Thanks, Davey. I'm sure they'll make great gifts.

Plant City Bob said...

Michael,

Thanks for the review. Never heard of these guys before so I promptly ordered me notebook to try.