Category Archives: Blackwing

Review: Blackwing Slate Notebook

Here’s the latest notebook offering from the folks who also bring us Blackwing pencils: the Blackwing Slate Notebook. Let’s take a look at the sample the company shared with me.

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I immediately noticed that it was in a similar style to a Notes & Dabbles notebook I reviewed not long ago, as well as the Fabio Ricci “Goran” notebook. The front and back covers have a stitched edge, and the spine is separate, with a loop for  a pen. I like this all black design– it’s attractive and feels very solidly constructed. The Blackwing pencil that’s included complements it nicely.

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When you open the notebook, it lies flat. There is a back pocket with an extra little slit where you can tuck a business card. On the inside back cover, there is a page of Blackwing brand mythology– I could live without this. It seems like they’ve tried to follow Moleskine’s lead in associating their product with a long history of famous users, as well as being the pencil of choice in cool contemporary situations like fashion week or “in Brooklyn. Just about anywhere.” That one is a double strike as I’m really sick of everyone talking about Brooklyn all the time too! (I live in Brooklyn, and I have never spotted anyone using a Blackwing pencil.) Anyway, I just wish companies would realize that a well-designed quality product can appeal to people on its own merits, without marketers trying so hard to make up these ridiculous stories, which can end up backfiring. Blackwing pencils look great and write great and I love them for those reasons, but I don’t want people to look at me and think “look at that poser who thinks she has to use trendy pencils just because they say all the cool kids use them too!”

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The paper is lined (a version with unlined pages is also available) and feels great to write on. The paper is very smooth, and performed a bit better than average in terms of show-through and bleed-through. Fountain pens seemed to dry relatively quickly despite the smooth surface.

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Bottom line, it’s a very nice notebook and despite the rant above, I am sure many people will be able to ignore that one page in the back and use it very happily! I hope they make a pocket size version someday too– the Fabio Ricci Goran notebook already comes in a pocket size, and there seems to be a relationship between Fabio Ricci and Blackwing’s parent company, which also owns Pencils.com. You can buy a small black Goran, but the stitching along the spine seems to be white– nowhere near as nice-looking as the all black look of the Slate. Pencils.com offers some other Fabio Ricci notebooks that also look promising, and I love the Fabio Ricci notebook I bought in Turkey. I thought the Palomino Blackwing Luxury Notebook was really nice too, and I hope they continue to expand their notebook offerings under either the Blackwing or Fabio Ricci brands.
The Blackwing Slate Notebook is available at Pencils.com or on Amazon.

Notebook Addict of the Week: The Well-Appointed Desk

This week’s addict is the blogger at the Well-Appointed Desk, who says:


“I was pulling everything out of my bag this morning to get situated at work. One, two, three… four… five! I found five notebooks in my bag and realized that maybe I had too many notebooks going at one time…”

Five notebooks sitting on one’s desk is not necessarily a sign of a major addiction, but five notebooks carried around in one’s bag is pretty impressive! I usually carry one or two.

Read more about what she’s carrying and why at How many notebooks is too many? | The Well-Appointed Desk.

 

Review & Giveaway: Palomino Luxury Notebook

The kind folks at Pencils.com sent me a couple of samples of their Palomino Luxury Notebooks. I was excited to try these, as they looked like they were adding some interesting tweaks to the typical notebook, and because I had seen that they were being made in collaboration with the Turkish brand Fabio Ricci, one of whose notebooks I picked up in Istanbul and quite liked. The owners of Palomino seem to be following in Moleskine’s marketing footsteps by trying to create a distinctive brand identity, tying the Blackwing pencil brand to a historic legacy. But in the case of these notebooks, they are selling them more on the basis of being a higher-end, better quality notebook than the competition. From the Palomino Brands website:

“Each notebook features 160 pages of acid-free, 90 GSM paper and a hardbound cover.

Tastefully designed to combine modern technology, premium materials and traditional artisanship perfected by generations of Turkish printers and book binders, these notebooks have the look and feel of elegance that has long defined the Palomino brand.”

So let’s take a look…

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The Palomino Luxury Notebook stands out at a glance because of the orange spine and the debossed motif along the edge of the front and back covers. As you can see from the comparison below, it is slightly bigger than a pocket Moleskine, though both are supposedly 3.5 x 5.5″. The cover material is slightly smoother and glossier than a Moleskine, a bit more leather-like. The notebook feels very solidly constructed and substantial and the extra details give it a feel of quality. One little thing I noticed is that although the cover is thicker than that of a Moleskine, the rounded corners of the cover are very neatly tucked in– this is something that is frequently sloppy on other brands of notebooks, where they don’t take the time to properly trim the black cover material so it will wrap tightly around the board underneath.

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The only downside to the exterior appearance is that the orange spine seems to be painted on with something that starts to show hairline cracks when the cover flexes. Over time, I’m not sure if this paint would start to flake off. (But the spine does bend nicely when the notebook is opened– it seems stronger than a Moleskine spine, and less likely to start tearing at the corners.) You’ll also notice that the cover overhangs the pages by quite a bit, which is a pet peeve of mine.

Inside, there’s a space for your name and other details on the inside front cover– why the name is set apart from the other lines, I don’t know. Inside the back cover is a paper expanding pocket– it’s a bit skimpy in size, and lacks the cloth reinforcement in the sides that many other brands have.

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Inside, the paper is smooth, but a bit less so than some other brands. Oddly, a few of my pens seemed to “skid” a little on the surface, not sure why, but it was mainly the fountain pens. The lines go all the way to the edge of each page. All my usual pens worked pretty well with better than average performance on bleedthrough, and about average levels of show-through.

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You can buy these journals at Pencils.com or via Amazon for $12.95, the same list price as a pocket Moleskine. I think it’s a great value. Many of the “luxury” features of this notebook are design elements that may or may not appeal to your personal preferences, but there is definitely a level of quality and attention to detail here that is a cut above some of the competition. Medium size is also available, in lined or plain paper. Pencils.com also sells other Blackwing Luxury Notebooks in medium and large, with lined, plain and squared paper– the non-Palomino ones have plain black exteriors and may be preferred by some who don’t care for the orange spine.

And since I have an extra sample, here’s our exciting giveaway! I will select one lucky winner from entries received in the following ways:
On Twitter, tweet something containing “@pencilscom” and “@NotebookStories, and follow “” and “@NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page  and the Pencils.com page, and post something containing the words “Palomino Luxury Notebook” on the Notebook Stories wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Palomino Luxury Notebook” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this blog.

The deadline for entry is Friday May 31 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.