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  1. I saw an Allan's Journal on eBay at a slightly discounted price so I went for it. I'd always been curious about the product: a journal marketed to the clergy, on the same paper they use to print their Bibles and finished in the same ornate fashion. With the goatskin cover, not a cheap item. But as a writing experience, with a couple of caveats, it's first-rate. First: it's smallish, with a soft leather cover stamped "Journal" in gold. Its 256 pages are edged in red overlaid with gold, which gives it a look of ecclesiastical splendor. It's surprisingly light in the hand and pleasant to hold. When opened, the pages lie flat. It's bound like the Bibles, so it's quite sturdy. It's interesting to see the methods evolved to create a book meant to be in constant use for a lifetime applied to a record of transience. That is part of the pleasure; much like driving an old Mercedes, which is likewise overbuilt for the conditions it's likely to encounter. The infidel in me likes writing her wicked thoughts on Bible paper, which is 50 gsm, with a hard, smooth surface that reflects the individual character of each pen I use. There's little line spread, but that also means a longer drying time, so you may want a blotter handy. I haven't used my dip pens with it yet, but it and iron-gall ink would seem a match made in heaven. I write a fairly small hand, which brings up the biggest downside of using this journal: the pages are ruled at 4mm, which is very tight. The newest model promises 5mm and a less lively blue than the exercise-book cyan that they've been using. I'll observe that with the tight lines and the page count, this journal may last a very long time. The thinness of the paper leads to another issue: there's a fair amount of see-through. I use mostly brown inks, and my driest writers put down a pretty light line, so there are some readability problems. I note that the new journals will have 70 gsm paper instead of the current 50, so this may be less of a problem when I buy another one in a year or so. On the whole, if you can deal with the eccentricities of this product, it's a very pleasant, extremely retro experience. If it would amuse you to imagine yourself as Father Brown, consoling your flock and bagging crims, this may be the notebook for you.

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