Sunday, 8 September 2013

Reviews of Grandluxe products (1)

[warning: long post with many pictures. Click on any picture to enlarge]

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by Grandluxe who asked me if I would like to review some of their products. I said I would be delighted to, adding that my reviews would be an honest appraisal of the product and would not be merely an advert for them, but that if they were happy for me to review things on that basis, I would be more than happy to do some reviews on here. They were happy with that agreement and said they would send me some samples.

I had a look at their website and read over their “About Us” pages and some of the product details. Below is a screen-capture of the website on the ‘About Us’ page.

They do a range of products under four different collections: Grandluxe, Paperluxe and Monologue, which are paper products of a variety of styles and quality, and Luxe, which is a collection of leather products. In fairness to, they did ask me if I wanted to review their leather products too, but I declined as I genuinely have no need of them. The screen-captures below are all from the Grandluxe website.

I was expecting maybe a couple of notebooks to come – maybe one of their cheaper notebooks and perhaps (if I was lucky) one of their more expensive ones to show the range of their products.

Then a huge box, and I mean HUGE box arrived the other day, with 25 notebooks in it. Yep, you read that right. 25! I will be reviewing for some time!

So, what arrived? Here goes. Numbers relate to the picture below.

1.  A4 Monologue sketch pad, red cover
2.  A5 Monologue sketch pad, orange cover
3.  A6 Monologue sketch pad, blue cover
4.  A5 Monologue Jotter, grey cover
5.  A6 Monologue Jotter, orange cover
6.  A4 Monologue basic notebook, black cover
7.  A5 Monologue Platinum, black cover
8.  A5 Monologue Platinum, gold cover
9.  A6 Monologue Platinum, silver cover
10.  A6 Monologue Platinum, bronze cover
11.  A5 Monologue ruled notebook, black cover
12.  A5 Monologue ruled notebook, yellow cover
13.  A6 Monologue ruled notebook, orange cover
14.  A6 Monologue ruled notebook, purple cover
15.  A7 Monologue ruled notebook, brown cover
16.  A7 Monologue ruled notebook, pink cover
17.  A8 Monologue ruled notebook, red cover
18.  A8 Monologue ruled notebook, green cover
19.  A6 Monologue sketch book, soft black cover
20.  A5 Déjà Vu notebook, brown cover
21.  A5 Déjà Vu notebook, green cover
22.  A5 Déjà Vu notebook, lime cover
23.  A6 Déjà Vu notebook, orange cover
24.  A6 Déjà Vu notebook, blue cover
25.  A6 Déjà Vu notebook, grey cover


I will review each type of notebook in turn, but today is the turn of the Platinum.

Screencap from website
Screencap from website

As I have multiple copies of the different types of notebook, I am going to be doing some giveaways at the end of the series of reviews. But, in order to review them, I do need to open the packs of at least some of them! Consequently, I have opened the black A5 and the bronze A6 (on the basis that these are the colours I like the most and therefore am less likely to be giving away!).

A5 Monologue Platinum (black cover) and A6 Monologue Platinum (bronze cover)
The Platinum range are not just notebooks, they have other pages in there too: some address pages and some pages for recording web addresses/blogs and then a notebook at the back. To be honest, I’m not sure if I will use any of these particular books (but I most definitely have my beady eye on a whole heap of the other samples!).

Walk through:
Front cover/exterior
The books are hardcover, with metallic PU over card. They come in three metallic colours: gold, silver and bronze, and black as a fourth colour. There is a colour-coordinated elastic closure (brown on the bronze book, silver on the silver, dark gold on the gold and black on the black). There is also a ribbon marker.

The colour coordination of the bronze book is the worst – the elastic is brown, the cover is greenish bronze, the edging of the book is gold and the ribbon marker is another more metallic brown (but much more red than the bronze colour of the cover). I took two pictures (below) with slightly different lighting. Colour reproduction isn't bad (on my screen). The colour co-ordination of the black is very good. It has silver edging which looks very smart and naturally, it is an easy match to get black elastic and black ribbon in the same colour.

The silver and gold books remain unopened, but are well matched. The gold book has gold edging and the elastic and the ribbon are the same colour; likewise for the silver book which has silver edging and matched elastic and ribbon (as far as I can tell without opening the packages).
Behind the elastic closure, the cover is slightly depressed and the surface is shiny, rather than the slightly pebbled texture of the rest of the cover. There is no branding on the front. On the back “monologue platinum” is engraved into the cover in a modern sans serif font in a pleasant, understated way (though those of you who hate all branding won’t like it probably).

Front cover
Edge (this was nigh on impossible to photograph!)
Back cover
The uncoordinated bronze
Bronze again

The covers are lined with paper. Both the black and the bronze books are lined with black paper; I assume the others are too. There is a title page with monologue platinum on it, then the next RHS page has space for personal details. At the bottom right hand side of this page is more branding. This time saying Paperluxe.

A5 first page

There are then 6 pages for addresses; 6 to a page in the A6 version (line spacing 4.3mm), 8 to a page in the A5 version (line spacing 5mm).

A5 addresses pages

Following this there are 6 pages for website and blog addresses; 24 to a page in both the A5 (line spacing 7mm) and the A6 (line spacing 4.7mm).

A5 website and blog pages

The reverse of the last page for website and blog addresses is blank and the rest of the book is for notes. Each page has a large top margin (23mm in the A5; 12mm in the A6) and 25 lines per page, with the top and bottom lines on the page darker than the others. Line spacing in the A5 is 7mm; in the A6 it is 4.7mm). The lines do not go edge to edge. In the A5 there is a 10mm gap on the inner margin and a 7mm gap on the outer. In the A6, these are 9mm and 6mm respectively. All of the pages are sewn rather than glued.

A5 - start of notes section
A6 not really laying flat + ribbon marker

Despite being sewn, the books do not really lay flat. The A5 lies flatter than the A6, but still needs holding down.

Back Cover
The back cover has a pocket in it, made from the same paper that lines the inside of the cover – thicker than writing paper; I would put it at about 100gsm. It feels more flimsy than the pockets you find in Moleskine notebooks, but would be more than adequate for most purposes. There are no stickers or suchlike included.

Pen Tests
I removed a leaf (4 sides in total) from the black notebook to do the pen tests, rather than (as ever) having a page in the book with scribbles and notes on. The paper is described as 80gsm, acid free fine white paper. It is smooth to the touch – maybe a smidgen less polished feeling than Clairefontaine paper.

Pen test

Fountain pen test: yikes! Don’t go there! The feathering is dreadful and the bleed through makes the other side unusable. The Ohto Tasche was especially bad – like writing on blotting paper and it even bled through to the page after! It is a very wet nib though.
Other pens: okay. The Pilot V5 hi-tecpoint 0.5mm pens were fine – no feathering to speak of and acceptable bleed through. Biros were absolutely invisible on the other side (I just hate writing in them).

Pen test: reverse
An interesting notebook although the combination of addresses and web-addresses at the front (why not at the back?) and notes behind them was (to me at least) a bit strange and I can’t really envisage when I would want all three in a book. Web addresses/blog addresses I would always keep electronically. Do people really write them out and then type them into the address bar in their browser? The poor colour coordination on the bronze was disappointing (but the other notebooks are superbly coordinated, so don’t take that as too much of a negative!) and the OCD-like aspects of my character squeaked a bit at the changing line spacing as you went from section to section.
The paper quality was quite poor. I know some of my fountain pens are ‘challenging’ to paper, but this paper struggled and failed with anything other than a rollerball and a biro.

Overall score: *** (out of 5)

Details of how to find Grandluxe products:
Monologue on Facebook:

Disclaimer: although I was given these books to review, this has been my honest opinion of the book reviewed. I have not been paid to review the books, nor am I in the employ of Grandluxe.

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