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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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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Great review. The Astra cover is beautiful and the end marbling fantastic. How's the Astra paper and writing experience?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by sgphoto; May 20th, 2020 at 11:41 AM.

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Thanks for the review. Those notebooks look really really nice.

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Thank you for an excellent review.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Very nice review and thank you! How does the paper compare to Tomoe River?
    "Nolo esse salus sine vobis ...Ē óSt. Augustine

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Quote Originally Posted by sgphoto View Post
    Great review. The Astra cover is beautiful and the end marbling fantastic. How's the Astra paper and writing experience?

    Thanks.
    Glad you liked it! To answer your question, the Paperblanks Astra paper is ok. It's a 120gsm paper, so there is no ghosting or bleeding, even with some heavy ink. I do like that quality of it. I also can get the notebook to lay pretty flat, even with that heavy paper. The texture is a bit toothy. I found that the front of the page is smoother than the back of the page. They have two different textures, with the back being noticeably more toothy, especially with my Pilot M nib. My stub nibs glide a bit more.

    My Astra notebook is lined. 8mm spacing is great for my writing. I used a Moleskine with a .38 tipped Muji pen for 16 years. I grew accustomed to fine tips and small writing. Now I am playing with stubs and other fun fountain pens, so I appreciate the 8mm line spacing on this notebook. But, I didn't care for the lines on the page not extending all the way to the edge of the page. I don't write/use the margins, so it was a bit a wasted space for me.

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    Thanks for the review. Those notebooks look really really nice.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    Thank you for an excellent review.
    Quote Originally Posted by VertOlive View Post
    Very nice review and thank you! How does the paper compare to Tomoe River?
    Thank you all.

    To answer your question about how it compares, I'm still working through my Paperblanks notebook right now, so I can't tell you for certain. At my request, Suzy from Stamford Notebook also included a packet of A5 loose leaf as I love to write letters. I plan to write a letter this evening with their paper. I can report back my initial thoughts on the paper afterward. Hopefully it's a little more absorbent than TR. I love the way TR brings out the shine of an ink, but I don't care for the long dry times.

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    No review until the notebook is filled? That's a tease. Wait, maybe you write a couple thousand words a day....

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    https://stamfordnotebooks.co.uk/

    Thank you for bringing these notebooks to a wider audience.

    I like the idea that this tiny company from a tiny town is producing such a good product, you can see the better quality just from the OPs comparison photographs.
    Last edited by Fermata; May 21st, 2020 at 03:04 AM.

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    No review until the notebook is filled? That's a tease. Wait, maybe you write a couple thousand words a day....
    Right? I'm a villain! Sorry! haha.

    Just a quick update, I wrote a letter last night. Had to refill my pen halfway through and decided to drop a massive drop of ink on the page to see how the paper handles it. Iroshizuku tsuki-yo. Blob sat on the page for a few minutes so I blew it across the page. Still, a large amount of ink at the drop point. Zero bleed through. And, as with Clairefontaine, it's like writing on lotion.

    I love this paper.

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Someone on the webs was asking for pictures of the Stamford Notebook paper test, so I tried it again. Zero bleed through again. Some ghosting, but that can be expected considering how much ink was sitting. I gave it about 45 seconds before blowing it around.







    (below) Some ghosting, but really not much.



    (below) Wettest spot. No bleed through and paper is strong enough to write on that spot on the backside no problem. Very happy with this paper.


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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Thank you for the review. I've found the Japanese Premium CD notebooks to be very good. They are produced by Apicia. Toothy Japanese nibs turn into buttery smooth ones on this paper - whilst maybe shows that marrying Japanese nibs with European paper may be the problem, not the nib in of itself.

    I find my Moleskines (old and new) behave OK with non-demanding inks - Parker and Platinum and Cross work well enough. With wetter inks (Waterman) and nibs I get feathering and bleeding.

    Clairefontaine - some nibs hate the coating the paper has. I have a theory that "blunter nibs" cannot get through the coating and that's why some pens skip on coated paper. I've had similar issues with other coated papers.

    A Parker sonnet with moleskine paper and parker ink is pen heaven. A Parker Sonnet with Clairefontaine is pen hell. Other combinations will produce entirely different results.

    I think one you've found a trinity that works for you, then it's a good idea to stick with it. Then the writing tools don't get in the way of writing.

    I'll certainly give the Stamford books a look.
    Last edited by Sandy; July 5th, 2020 at 07:25 AM.

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    Default Re: Stamford Notebooks (Handmade Notebooks): Initial Thoughts Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    Thank you for the review. I've found the Japanese Premium CD notebooks to be very good. They are produced by Apicia. Toothy Japanese nibs turn into buttery smooth ones on this paper - whilst maybe shows that marrying Japanese nibs with European paper may be the problem, not the nib in of itself.

    I find my Moleskines (old and new) behave OK with non-demanding inks - Parker and Platinum and Cross work well enough. With wetter inks (Waterman) and nibs I get feathering and bleeding.

    Clairefontaine - some nibs hate the coating the paper has. I have a theory that "blunter nibs" cannot get through the coating and that's why some pens skip on coated paper. I've had similar issues with other coated papers.

    A Parker sonnet with moleskine paper and parker ink is pen heaven. A Parker Sonnet with Clairefontaine is pen hell. Other combinations will produce entirely different results.

    I think one you've found a trinity that works for you, then it's a good idea to stick with it. Then the writing tools don't get in the way of writing.

    I'll certainly give the Stamford books a look.
    Looks like you've done your homework as well! As I'm spending more time with different inks, pens and papers, I am finding the idiosyncrasies of the fountain pen writing experience. You said it perfectly, regarding the tools not getting in the way of the writing. I have come to realize that for a short while I would focus more on the pen, ink and paper than the writing itself. Now that some time has passed I am near finished fine tuning my materials.

    Thus far, the Stamford Notebook has been excellent in paper quality, size and customer service. I'm nearly finished with the first notebook and have found that the only negative is that the notebooks don't lay as flat as the others I've used. I haven't been as aggressive about flattening out the pages/spine as with other notebooks, so when I begin the next notebook sometime in the next few weeks, I'll give the spine a little more push.

    Overall the notebook has been great. I plan to do a writeup when I finish this one.

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