Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Review of the Clairefontaine 1951 Vintage-style exercise A5 book

In my last post, I reviewed the Clairefontaine A5 clothbound exercise book, but in the same parcel from Bureau Direct, I also got two Clairefontaine 1951 Vintage-style exercise A5 books. I had originally ordered the turquoise cover and the pink cover, but the pink was out of stock, so I opted to get the blue cover immediately, rather than wait for new stock.

Again, these notebooks were bought for three primary reasons:
  • Clairefontaine paper to be able to handle fountain pen
  • A5 to be able to be pulled apart and put in my writing filofax as needed
  • Light and portable so my handbag doesn’t weigh a ton from carrying the notebook around
So, how do these 1951 vintage-style exercise books measure up?

The cover is made of card with a textured finish on the outside. There was a binding around the notebook which said “Back to Basics 1951”, and had the Clairefontaine logo and a description of the product on the front, and on the back, a small description in French and English: “For you, Clairefontaine has reintroduced its original notebook covers with a modern twist of the iconic French notebook. Collection 1951, combines Clairefontaine’s renowned satin smooth 90g paper and the timeless look of the original covers. An exceptional collection, offering a high quality and a vintage look.” Next to that is this claim:

So true!

The front cover has a large rectangle in which to write a title (or your name if you really like the back to school feel!), with the Clairefontaine logo beneath. The back cover has the logo in the middle and a small description of the paper (Douceur de l’√©criture Papier veloute 90g/m2).

The two books still in slip wrappers

Front cover in detail

For my use (scribbling whilst out and about), a hard cover would have been nice (but would have detracted from the vintage exercise book design and affected the binding method too).

The binding:
The paper is, as you might expect from something mimicking a school exercise book, stapled into the cover. For my purposes, this will make it easy to dismantle when needed, ready to file in my writing filofax.

The paper:
Clairefontaine describe their paper as the best in the world and I would have to say they are not boasting undeservedly. The paper in the exercise book is 90g/m2 but I’m sure most of us would know that it isn’t just the weight of the paper that counts, but the finish. The same weight paper can behave very differently with fountain pens.
The paper is white with no margins. The size of the exercise book is 14.8cm x 21cm. There are 48 sheets/96 pages and since they are stapled in, this means all of them are removable (unlike in a glued book when the first and last pages always seem to be glued to the cover).
The corners of the pages are squared off rather than rounded.

Not flat yet, but it will be...

Line spacing:
From the top edge of the paper to the first line is 19mm. Then the lines are 8mm apart, with the bottom line being 15mm away from the edge of the paper. There are 23 lines on the page. The line colour is a purple-grey and feint.

Good. It doesn’t lay flat without being opened right out, but after a bit of bending it lies flat easily.

Fountain Pen Test:
The paper is gloriously smooth to write on and even my wettest ink/nib combinations worked fabulously with no discernable feathering or bleed through. The toughest combination I use is the italic Parker vector with an italic nib and Waterman’s ink, but this was a dream to write with on this paper.

No discernable feathering

or bleed-through

I love the paper. I also love the fact there is no margin and that the pages are A5 (and not wider like the cloth bound book pages are). It will be easy to dismantle, but unless you chose to do this, it would hold together absolutely fine. The whole look of the exercise book is fun too. For all these reasons, this will be the one that goes in my handbag, rather than the cloth bound one.

1 comment:

  1. I bought a Clairefontaine notebook to chop up for my personal sized Filofax. The paper is beautiful. It was a bit of a labour of love doing the cutting but worth it for the fountain-pen-friendly quality.