Tag Archives: london

London Notebooks

I was in London a few months ago, and while the trip wasn’t my best notebook-spotting adventure, I did see a few interesting items.

At Foyle’s, the huge bookstore on Charing Cross Road, there is a nice selection of stationery tucked in shelves by the registers on the 2nd floor. I thought the Puggy’s Best notebook was rather cute, and I was really tempted to buy the composition book tote bag!

london notebooks 2016 - 2

london notebooks 2016 - 1 (2)

At an airport shop, I was somewhat tempted by this Ted Baker notebook, but I didn’t like the pen loop on the spine, or the included pen itself. The pages inside were a mix of lined and squared pages, but the squares were very small– I think I’d find them a little distracting. Note the notch in all the pages for where the elastic closure sits.

london notebooks 2016 - 2 (1)

london notebooks 2016 - 1

london notebooks 2016 - 1 (1)


So those were the things I did NOT buy… but I did purchase a couple other notebooks on my trip, which I’ll review soon!

Famille Summerbelle Map Notebooks

These look cute… I love the intricate designs, which seem to be based on cut paper!

Find out more at Discover our new notebooks! – Famille Summerbelle.

More on London Notebooks

When I was complaining about the bleak landscape for London notebook shopping, I didn’t mention the most frustrating part of the trip! I was there on business, and during my last meeting of the trip, when I already knew it was pretty likely that I’d go home without buying anything, I spotted a really gorgeous notebook. Unfortunately it belonged to one of the people I was meeting with! It was about 4 x 6″ with a nice soft-looking black leather cover, with stitching around the edge. It looked a little beat up and worn in. It was very distracting to have that sitting across the table from me while trying to talk business! The owner of the notebook never opened it during the meeting, though he did jot a few notes in a larger Black & Red notebook. He wasn’t someone I knew well enough to be able to say, “gee, that’s a really nice notebook! Where’d you get it?” So it was just a tantalizing glimpse of possible London notebook splendor…

The other missing piece of the story is that another friend of mine, who does know me well enough to be aware of my notebook fetish, snapped these photos of notebooks and sketchbooks in London museums– probably the V&A and the British Museum, but she forgot which! The only identifying detail is a card identifying the first ones as belonging to artist Sigmar Polke.

london notebooklondon notebook 2london notebook 3


Disappointing Notebook Shopping

I went to London recently on a business trip and was excited about having an opportunity to spot some notebooks that might not be available in the US… but unfortunately, the trip was a bit of a bust in that respect. I had jotted down the names of some stationery and art supply shops (thank you to those of you who responded to my Twitter call for suggestions) but I ended up having such limited time for wandering and shopping that I didn’t make it to most of them. I did visit two London Graphic Centre stores in hopes that I could find a pocket size Seawhite sketchbook that I’d seen online, but they were very small and didn’t have much selection. They did have larger Seawhite sketchbooks, both hardcover and staple-bound.

I also stopped in some Rymans and Waterstone’s shops, but again didn’t really see anything that inspiring, mostly spiral bound Pukka Pads. I almost bought a Silvine cash book, but decided I didn’t really need it in my collection. At Paddington Station, there was a little gift shop selling NU notebooks, but again, I didn’t feel the need to buy. Part of the problem is the exchange rate– everything is so expensive in London, you have to really want something to make it worthwhile. I was truly appalled when I saw that a shop at Heathrow airport was selling pocket size Moleskines for £13.99, which would be over $23 US, and that’s just at the official exchange rate, before you factor in the extra charges your credit card will tack on, or the actual rate you’ll get if you change money, which might put it over $26– roughly double the US list price! (I did see lower prices at shops outside the airport.)

So ultimately, I returned from London without a single new notebook. Next time I’ll have to plan my shopping better to see if I can hit some of the more interesting gift and stationery shops that might have more unique items.

Back in the States, I happened to spend a few hours in New Paltz, NY, a college town with some fun, quirky shops. Manny’s Art Supplies was a delight to visit, as they have a fun selection of all sorts of things. It reminded me of a long-gone five-and-ten store from my childhood, with bins of little items like superballs and plastic animals. They had assorted office supplies like ledgers and receipt books, as well as a lot of sketchbooks and notebook brands like Moleskine, Rhodia and Clairefontaine. I bought some art supplies, but no notebooks, unfortunately. Nearby, I stopped in a great used bookstore called Barner Books. They sell quite a few journals, including the ScriptaNotes brand and a lot of leather-covered journals with very decorated covers. I snagged a couple of books that I had been wanting to read, but again, the notebooks weren’t calling my name. Oh well… it’s not like I don’t have plenty of other new and old notebooks in the pipeline to review, including what’s below!

to review1

Do you have favorite art supply or stationery stores where you like to shop for new notebooks? Have you spotted anything new and interesting lately?

1880s Memorandum Book

Here’s a drool-worthy item that some collector has probably already snapped up:


From the description:

“The writing in the book includes “This Old Pocket Book & Pencil was given to me by my Father about the year 1882 and in the following pages I have recorded some of the events of my Life, places visited and experiences.” The next page records “Apprenticed to John Chambers July 1886. Finished apprenticeship July 1890. March-8-91 Left the farm of John Chambers, Grantham. Wed March 18 Left Grantham 12.30 Arr. Kings X 2.40 To 76 George St. Evening to Wardour Hall, Cleveland Hall” [Methodist. Cleveland Hall was was dedicated to helping young women who were in poverty.] . Monday March 23 1891 Entered Mr Whiteley’s Employ.” There follow many brief, often daily entries through 1891 and ending on April 30th 1892, giving glimpses of the work and leisure of a working woman in Victorian London. The book is a combination of a scarce example of this type of notebook, with original stilus, together with a unique personal record.”

See more at IMPROVED PATENT IVORY SURFACE METALLIC MEMORANDUM BOOK [with writing stilus ]: T J & J Smith London no date – Peter M. Huyton.

Moleskine Monday: National Gallery Guidebooks

This is sort of old news but I realized I’d never posted it: one of Moleskine’s custom projects is a pair of National Gallery guidebooks.

For everyone who wants to explore the fascinating world of art in London, Moleskine has partnered with the National Gallery museum to release two different city guide notebooks with a twist: The London Painting Trail, perfect to explore the city and discover seven of the most prestigious collections of paintings, including the ones of Apsley House, the Courtauld Gallery and the Royal Collection– and the Little Red Book Twin Set, a special edition set of notebooks narrating quirky facts behind the Gallery’s collections. Both are available at the National Gallery bookshop and online.

A Moleskine Fangirl Introduces Stationery Club

If you live in London, you might want to join the  Stationery Club.  Here’s what a self-described Moleskine Fangirl has to say about a meeting she attended, and her own notebook preferences:

“Is it a real club?” Yes.  A real-life, lots of people in a bar, scaring the non-stationery normals out of the room type club.  It looked like there were more than thirty of us upstairs at the Horse and Groom.  I’m not quite sure what I’d expected but yes, it was a semi-serious, question-led discussion which only occasionally descended into drunken chatter, rowdiness and generously traded insults.

“Did you really talk about stationery for two hours?” And the rest. We left about 9:30 because we were ravenous, but I think conversation and debate continued on. There was voting.  It was awesomely good fun.

The topic of choice was the Notebook and it was always going to descend into mayhem when the word Moleskine came up.  Firstly as to whether they’re made of real moleskin,  and should we choose a pronounciation? Or go with the slightly affected ‘Mo-lay-skeen-ay’ in tribute to the the Johnny-come-lately Italian company who’ve reissued them? They used to be produced by family businesses in Paris until 1986.  Is its success a triumph of marketing?  Surely nobody buys into the schlocky story that they peddle with the books – that it was beloved of Bruce Chatwin, Ernest Hemmingway et al.  Meh, who cares? Instead, look at the practical, stylish Muji number which was championed at the meeting – typical thoughtful Japanese design which includes a plastic pocket for cards, two elastics and dotted paper (ooooooh) for versatility.  It was popular, for sure…

But I’m going to be honest.  Even though I’m not quite sure why, I’m a roaring Moleskine fangirl (Clairefontaine being my second choice).  First and foremost because I’ve always liked the stock (though I’ve had issues with the soft-cover A5 folio and bleed-through recently) and paper is always the first and foremost consideration in buying a notebook for me. I’ve got quite the collection in current rotation – currently using the red 18-month week to view diary, the monthly planner for work, various sizes of A6 and A5 black ruled hardcovers for notes, red large cahier journals for writing projects and black ones for morning pages.

Read more at Stationery Club and Confessions of a Moleskine Fangirl « One Million Gold Stars.

Using the Moleskine City Notebook: Paris

I have two of the Moleskine City Notebooks, one for New York (where I live) and one for Paris. I bought it for my first trip there a couple of months ago, and I really loved having it.

Paris is the kind of place that is so constantly featured in newspaper and magazine articles– the Moleskine book gave me a place to jot down all the ideas that appealed to me. I’d also been given many suggestions by friends, which also went into the Moleskine. Finally, I made notes from a travel guide that I’d gotten for free– it was a big fat book, not the kind of thing anyone would really want to have in their bag while trying to travel light. Since I was only going for a short trip anyway, I loved being able to customize my own guidebook to focus on just the things that I knew I wanted to do, while still having all the maps I needed to get around, and blank pages for adding new notes on the go. The three ribbon markers in the book came in handy for marking map pages and my notes about my next destination.

I very much hope to visit Paris again soon– if I could, I think I’d go once a year! I love the idea of having my own travel guide and address book for a city, and being able to build it over the years as I learn more about a place. I used to go to London frequently for work and pleasure, and I wish I’d had one of these city notebooks to capture all my favorite haunts there and replace the A-to-Z map book I always had to carry there anyway, even once I knew the city well! I may have to buy a London city notebook even though I have no plans to visit again soon.

As for my New York city notebook, I’ve yet to write any information in it about my favorite places here. I don’t tend to need the maps, so I don’t carry it around. I do like having it, though, and I think it would be fun to fill it with all sorts of recommended restaurants and shops and sights so I could lend it to any friends from out of town who come to visit.

One feature I hope Moleskine might add to future printings would be an additional set of labels including some sort of little arrows or markers, perhaps with numbers. I kept thinking it would be helpful to be able to flag some key locations on the maps without having to use the translucent overlay sheets