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Thread: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

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    Default Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Thought I'd share about a recent experience while looking for the perfect notebook. While many of us continue to seek out the perfect fountain pen, myself included, I have also been avidly hunting for the perfect notebook.

    After 16 years of writing in Moleskines, I branched out just this year. Each notebook seemingly got better and better. First it was to a Leuchtturm1917 A5, then Rhodia Webnotebook (oh that lovely Clairefontaine paper), then on to a Quo Vadis Habana (a little bigger than the A5 size, but still uses Clairefontaine and it's made in the USA!). Having finished those rather quickly (thanks quarantine), I ordered a Paperblanks notebook. I had considerations about leaving behind my beloved Clairefontaine paper, but I preferred the hardcover of the Paperblanks and the more square format. The Quo Vadis is taller and not as wide. Additionally, the 5mm line spacing on the Quo Vadis requires me to skip lines as I don't like having to write smaller. The Paperblanks has a generous 8mm line spacing, so no line skipping. I decided to give it a try.

    Although the gsm of the Paperblanks is a little heavier, I found that it has a lot more texture and feedback than I care for. What I also noticed is that on the left side of the notebook, the texture is more coarse than the right, almost as if the front of the page is smoother than the back. I'm about 15 hours into this notebook right now, so I think it's a fairly well substantiated observation.

    Enter the Stamford Notebooks Crown Quattro. I had discovered them in my initial search back in January of this year. If you're not familiar with them Iím not surprised. They have very little presence in the digital marketplace. They're a very tiny shop in the UK that makes their notebooks by hand. Yes, bespoke notebooks. Everything is customizable. And while they're a little more expensive than the mass-produced ones you'll find on Amazon, they're not that much more expensive. I found very little information about them on the web other than from what I could dig up on their website and a few random recommendations in the archives of some forums. Admittedly, their website is not as helpful as I had expected either. I decided to reach out to their generic customer support email with some questions about cover rigidity and paper smoothness, expecting some boiler plate response. What I found in reply was completely shocking. A lovely lady named Suzy wrote me back at length and answered all of my questions. We exchanged emails for a week or so, and I learned just how authentic this company is. They truly care about their customer experience.

    Not only was she willing to answer every single question, but also wanted to send me samples of cover materials so that I could find the exact cover material that was right for me. I learned that you can also choose your cover thickness if you have a preference, add a rear pocket or pen loop, etc.

    Having no idea if I like 1.5mm cover thickness or 2mm, I decided to simply order a few different notebooks and see what turns up. The shipping from the UK to US is steep, I will have to say that this is the only drawback of ordering from them, but for someone like me that writes daily and has been doing it consistently for nearly two decades, I consider it worth the investment. I spend a lot of time scribbling and itís nice to have a smooth page under my hand and a quality notebook to open every day. In the end, I bought a few thinking that if I loved them, then I could keep the lot for myself. If not, then they would make lovely gifts for friends and family. The packaging alone makes them feel like an expensive gift. Honestly, I was shocked. Read on.

    The notebooks arrived yesterday and I cannot express in words the quality difference between these notebooks and those manufactured in mass numbers. Just the super thick cardstock itself that sheathes the notebooks drips quality. And thatís only the packaging.

    The covers are gorgeous, the stitching on the spine is lovely, the paper...oh lord the paper. It's just as creamy and velvety as Clairefontaine. My eyes may or may not have glistened as my fingers ran across a blank page.

    Another nice addition is that the lines go across the entire page. With the Paperblanks and Quo Vadis, they center align the printed lines and leave margins on the side. This might be helpful to some, but not to me. I do not annotate, I don't use my journal for anything other than as a daily catch-all for my mind. Yet another box ticked by Stamford Notebooks.

    For cover material, I chose to get the Woven Cloth in British Racing Green (I'm going through a green phase) and also one with Burgundy Recycled Leather. I prefer the synthetic leather covers of Moleskines and Leuchtturms. Simply put, they're easier to wipe clean if you spill something on them. I tend to use and abuse my journals and the woven cloth seems too porous for me, but I wanted one of those BRG notebooks. I guess Iíll have to be more careful with it. I'm really glad that I got one (two actually).

    I have yet to begin using my Stamford Notebooks notebook, but my initial impressions are very very good. As with most things in life, you cannot tell the quality of something until you hold it in your hand. Then, suddenly, it makes perfect sense. This is one of those examples.

    I will do a long-term update after Iíve finished filling one up. I expect it will be in a few months. If you have any questions or want to talk notebooks let me know.

    Specs: (other sizes available, but I went with the Crown Quattro size)

    Crown Quarto Notebook Ė 17.2cm wide x 23.9cm high (a little smaller than A4) with 160 pages. 100gsm paper milled and produced in the UK as well. Mine is lined with 8mm spacing. Dot and Grid has 5mm spacing.

    (below) Left to right: Moleskine, Rhodia Webnotebook A5, Quo Vadis Habana, Stamford Notebooks Crown Quattro Woven Cloth BRG, Paperblanks Ultra size with Astra Cover.

    (below)Left to right: Stamford Notebooks Crown Quattro Woven Cloth BRG, Quo Vadis Habana, Paperblanks Ultra size with Astra Cover, Rhodia Webnotebook A5, Moleskine.

    (below) Top to Bottom: Moleskine, Rhodia Webnotebook A5, Paperblanks Ultra size with Astra cover, Quo Vadis Habana, Stamford Notebooks Crown Quattro with BRG Woven Cloth cover.

    Last edited by ThirtyOne; May 20th, 2020 at 11:06 AM.

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