Paper Versus Binding & Ink Versus Paper

I read an article by Craig Courtice in the National Post entitled The Cult of the Moleskine and it got me a thinkin’. What makes a good notebook? Certainly not stories about famous people using it. A notebook is paper, binding, and a cover.

Notebooks, like those from Moleskine and Miquelrius, offer different approaches to what a good notebook should be.

The Moleskine books have reached cult status but unfortunately, the paper is inconsistent in the way it accepts fountain pen ink. On the other hand, Miquelrius notebooks have wonderful paper that always accepts even the wettest fountain pen ink. However, the binding occasionally fails, especially in the 300 page versions. Another limitation, in my experience, is that the Miquelruis’s soft cover makes writing on the left page very difficult until half the book has been used.

When choosing this type of notebook, you have to decide which is more important, the quality of the paper or the binding. If you choose the better binding and hard cover of the Moleskine, then you have a problem choosing your fountain pen ink. Choose the wrong ink and it will bleed through the paper, feather, or fail to dry on the page. Choose the wrong pen with the right ink, then feathering and bleed-through will persist.

If you have chosen the Moleskine notebook for its superb binding and hard cover, then let me save you from seemingly endless experimentation in finding an ink that will work with its paper.

In my experience, only one fountain pen ink seems to consistently work on the Moleskine paper — Aurora. However, you need to use a fine, somewhat dry nib. My favorites are a vintage Parker 51 with a fine nib or a Lamy 2000 with an extra-fine nib. (Yes, I tried Noodler’s ink and it was slower to dry or didn’t dry at all on the Moleskine paper. This might change with a different batch of ink and/or a different Moleskine book.)

If your writings must endure getting wet or survive the ages, then write with the Uniball 207 or a DIN ISO standard 12757-2 archival quality ball point pen. (DIN ISO standard 12757-2 defines the standards of permanence for the colour seen on paper when held against light, for resistance to chemical solutions, and for the writing quality of the refill. Refills which are marked with a DIN symbol or the ISO standard number have high writing quality and the writing is waterproof and forgery-proof.)

For the smaller police/reporter type notebooks, Moleskine is not my choice. I prefer the traditional English police notebook (model #190) or the Canadian version from Triform (without the printed police information) as they are less expensive than Moleskine.

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