Paper: Hamelin Black n’ Red, A4
Pen: Pelikan Souveran M605, Binderized Fine nib
Ink: Vintage Sheaffer Peacock Blue
So, here’s the thing about Black n’ Red notebooks. I love them and I hate them. It’s like a grab bag, you could reach in and pull out a totally sweet prize, or you can pull out a total piece of garbage. That’s exactly what it’s like buying these notebooks. My first experience with the Black n’ Red was at Staples. I came across this high quality paper, and immediately recognized it’s fountain pen friendliness. The paper was bright white (good for ink sampling), just as smooth as Rhodia, and had grey ruling instead of the purple that Rhodia uses. On top of that, it had a plastic cover and an elastic band to keep it closed. Awesome. This thing was going to be great. It was! I couldn’t wait to get home and order some more online. BOY was I setting myself up for disappointment, and I didn’t even know it.
I noticed that Amazon had a pretty solid selection of these pads. I was stoked. They were cheap, looked professional, they were black, and they were fountain pen friendly. So I ordered two of them, one A5 and one A4. When the notebooks arrived, I immediately checked them out. Here’s the disappointment. Totally same notebook, totally different paper. The paper in the one I had ordered online was more textured. There was no sheen to it and ink feathered more so than it did on the last one. Overall, it wasn’t bad paper, it just wasn’t what I was buying it for. Moral of the story: If you’re going to buy Black n’ Red notebooks (I still recommend them), do so in a brick and mortar store so you can verify that it’s the nice paper, not the textured, feathery stuff.
Like I said, check them out if you happen to see them in an office supply store, but be weary when purchasing online. Out of the four Black n’ Reds I have, two are the ones I like and two are the ones that I wish were the ones I like.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Stationery Reviews for more fountain pen friendly paper!
7 thoughts on “The Black n’ Red by Hamelin A5 (8.25″x5.875″) Notebook – Handwritten Review”
Lovely review, as always. That pen and ink is gorgeous too…. I’ve used Black n Red before, but only their legal pads which are pretty decent. Not super smooth but take fountain pen ink really well. I like the gallery, by the way!
Thanks! I think I’m going to go back to the way I had it before, with more larger pictures in the post itself. I think it’s more friendly to RSS readers that way too. I have to stop into Staples and investigate more. It’s such a shame because the FP friendly ones are great.
Are you sure you didn’t get a recycled notebook? I’ve found them to be awful and textured, but the standard notebooks have always been nice. Also, I’ve only bought the hardbound ones, never the spiral ones.
Yeah, I just double checked to be sure. Both small notebooks have the same reference number, same with the large ones. They’re all listed as having premium 24lb. paper too. I think they’re just inconsistent. The only difference I could tell was three were made in Poland and two were made in Germany.
Hello Ed. I purchased two Polish made Black n’ Red spiral bound notebooks, A4 size, roughly five years ago in a chain drugstore. I was astonished by the weight, smooth finish, and whiteness of the paper which far surpassed the quality of any other paper I had encountered locally or had used up to that point. Thank you for sharing your advice.
No problem! When they’re good, they’re good.
I know this is an old article, but this may be helpful if someone stumbles across this post. I have noticed the difference in paper quality for some of my black n red notebooks. The better quality notebooks use Optik paper, which is indicated by the Optik logo on the back cover, bottom right corner (the logo says Optik Paper and has a picture of a nib).