A Pattern Book from the V&A Museum

The notebook image below is from an interested blog post from the V&A Museum in London. It’s an example of a pattern book: “They are reference guides for production. Maybe they show things made by the company in the past, maybe images by competitors, maybe historic objects – all intended to aid in further design. […]

A Notebook with a Link to Van Gogh?

I was trying to find online images of Van Gogh’s small sketchbooks (the supposed “moleskines”) when I found the images below. The notebook pictured did not belong to Van Gogh, but was rather a sort of logbook kept at a cafe in Arles that Van Gogh visited. The notebook has been cited as evidence for […]

Roland Thaxter’s Sketchbook, from the Biodiversity Heritage Library

You can find some amazing things in online archives. Below are some pages from a sketchbook by a botanist named Roland Thaxter, who lived from 1858-1932 (read more about him here).   The actual sketchbook is in a library at Harvard, but it is shared via The Biodiversity Heritage Library, which “works collaboratively to make […]

The Composition Book Reimagined: “comp”

You may remember Michael Bierut’s stack of composition books that he’s used for many years– one of my favorite notebook stories ever. Now, Aron Fay, a colleague of Bierut’s at Pentagram, has a Kickstarter project going for an upscale, redesigned version of the composition book, using higher end materials and construction. While part of me […]

Vintage Notebooks from My Collection

Most of my notebooks are ones that I’ve bought new and filled with my own notes and sketches. But I also occasionally succumb to my weakness for collecting other people’s used notebooks when I see them at flea markets or on eBay. Here’s a few that I’ve picked up along the way. This Rice-Stix notebook […]

Grandma’s Teenage Diaries

A very cool story about someone finding his grandmother’s old diaries… and what lovely diaries they were, with colorful patterned covers and red edges… “My parents recently found five journals in one of those listless cardboard boxes that leaves an attic only when somebody dies or the house is sold. (Don’t worry, everyone survived the […]

U. S. Government Printing Office Memorandum Notebook

Here’s a really cool item I snagged on eBay: This is an early version of the Federal Supply Service notebooks I’ve reviewed here. I don’t know when they changed the information on the back, but from googling the Government Printing Office and the Federal Supply Service, my theory is that the US government used to […]

Notebooks from Mussolini’s Italy

From an interesting article at Slate: “American student Barbara Donahue (then Barbara Finlay) lived in Italy between August 1937 and March 1938, when she was 7 and 8 years old. She attended a Catholic school, the Istituto Vittoria Colonna, in Milan. There, she was issued these small soft-covered government-produced student notebooks, decorated with colorful, dramatic […]

Andrew Croswell’s 19th Century Notebooks

I love stumbling on interesting antique notebooks like this! “Andrew Croswell (1778-1858) was a student at Harvard University in the late 1790s. He later studied medicine in Plymouth, MA, and practiced there and in Fayette and Mercer, ME. In the collections [at the Massachusetts Historical Society] we hold two notebooks that were kept by Croswell. […]

Einstein’s Notebook

Thanks to a tip from a reader named Raymond, I can share these images of a notebook that belonged to Albert Einstein: “Einstein’s search for general relativity spanned eight years, 1907-1915. … sometime between the late summer of 1912, when Einstein moved from Prague to Zurich, and early 1913. … [Einstein kept a notebook that was] found […]