Sunday, 16 February 2014

Review of Air Conqueror A4 airmail paper (30gsm)

I realised that I haven't done any reviews for a while. Let me remedy that!

I have a number of overseas friends that I write to and find it hard to get airmail paper locally. It used to be everywhere – especially in those bargain-basement bookstores that sold filofaxes and paper and notebooks as well as books. I haven’t seen airmail paper on sale in a shop in ages! The last lot I bought was from an online store and was still fairly pricey.

Anyway, I saw this A4 airmail paper on eBay for a good price and got it. I used it for the first time yesterday.

General feeling:
It feels a lot thinner than the Basildon Bond paper that I usually use, but then, online searches for the gsm for that seem to have 70gsm as a consensus, c.f. 30 gsm for the new lot, so there’s no great surprise at that!

The paper is very thin (unsurprisingly). It’s also pretty heavily watermarked, which once you write on it, isn’t too obvious, but before being written on is quite intrusive. The watermarking says ‘air conqueror’ with a symbol underneath. The colour of the paper is halfway between white and ivory – an off-white (except that phrase makes me think ‘grubby’ rather than the colour it is). In the picture below, it looks darker because I’m deliberately photographing it on a dark background to show the watermark. [click on any picture to enlarge]

Photographed against a dark background to show the watermark

The Basildon Bond (70gsm) paper will cope with being written on both sides; this paper wouldn’t have coped with black biro on both sides (which is what I was using). However, if the gsm are correct, it weighs less than half as much so doesn’t matter.

The paper has a fairly ‘grippy’ feel to it (not exactly rough – but not polished like higher weight papers) and one side is smoother than the other. It’s easy to tell which is the writing-surface side.

I did a pen test – not because I wanted to see if there was bleed-through because I knew there would be – but to see how well the paper coped with fountain pens as well as a couple of roller-balls and a biro. The paper was surprisingly nice to write on with fountain pen, given the ‘grippy’ feel to it and there wasn’t a hint of feathering (or whole spiders – unlike the Peter Pauper book!). A couple of ink/nib combinations took longer to dry so left-handers might need to be careful, but otherwise it was a lovely experience writing on it.

General pen-test
Close-up 1
Close-up 2
Reverse (no surprise at the bleed-through!)

I’m glad I bought the paper. It was cheaper than the equivalent amount of Basildon Bond (given that this was 50 sheets of A4 paper, rather than A5) and although I can only write on one side, the thinness of the paper makes it still lighter than the same amount of writing on one sheet of Basildon Bond. Also, there’s a nostalgic bit of me that loves the crinkling sound of it!


  1. the great thing about air mail paper is that it is thin, but high quality and should not usually bleed through. Try and get hold of some Basildon Bond air mail peer: you might be surprised!

    1. I do have Basildon Bond (it's the BB I mentioned in the comparison) and no, there isn't much bleed-through but it is 70gsm rather than 30. It's what I usually use but I thought I would just give this a try...