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I am always hunting inexpensive notebooks or legal pads that are fountain pen friendly for my work. I have been, for the most part, disappointed by the cheap quality of the paper on most pads and notebooks for everyday use. Last night, I spotted a display of these "new" notebooks that boast a high quality paper that resists ink bleed. At $1.97 per notebook, I decided to purchase a couple. A Quick Review of the new Five Star Coillege Ruled Notebook by Acco Brands in A5-related size: This notebook is made in the U.S, and is Number 11231. It has a 2 subject divider and a colorful cover. The paper is a light weight, student quality and likely not archival. The overall feel of the paper is smooth, but has a slight amount of toothiness. The manufacturer indicates that the notebook "Lasts all year. Guranteed!", and contains reinforced storage pockets, water resistant cover and high quality paper, "which resists ink bleed with common student writing instruments such as pencil, ball point pens, gel pens, felt tip pens and markers". I decided to see how fountain pen ink would do. The pens, nibs and inks used in this test for feathering, bleedthrough and showthrough were: Montblanc 144, fine 18K gold nib: Sailor Kobe Ooji Cherry Namisu Nova, medium titanium nib: Montblanc Irish Green Conklin Duragraph, 1.1 stub nib: Midnight Blue ink creation of mine Franklin Christoph Panther, Matsuyama medium italic 14K semi-flex nib: DeAtramentis Aubergine Italix Captain's Commission, medium italic nib: Diamine Woodland Green Lamy Studio, fine 18K gold nib: Akkermann #14 Purple Lamy 2000, medium 18K gold nib: Sailor Nioi Sumire Lamy LX, medium nib: Robert Oster Australian Mauve Opal Delta Capri Marina, broad fusion nib: GvFC Deep Sea Green Lamy Safari, broad nib: Diamine Bilberry Lamy Safari, medium nib: Robert Oster River of Fire Lamy Al-Star, fine nib: Robert Oster Tranquility Lamy Safari, fine nib: Cross Violet Custom made, fine 18k nib: Robert Oster Green Diamond Delta Horsepower, 1.1 stub fusion nib: DeAtramentis Robert Louis Stevenson Jinhao 450, Goulet 1.1 stub nib: DeAtramentis Edgar Allen Poe The following are printer scans of the inks tested on the paper. The image quality is not the best, but it should give you some idea. Note that the pink/red/purple colors seem "fuzzy". This is the result of my printer scanner, not the ink feathering. Page 1: Page 2: Feathering/Spreading: Overall there was minimal feathering. Those which did have some feathering included those inks which came from stub or broad nibs. Almost all fine or medium nibs showed little to no feathering. Bleedthrough: There was no bleedthrough, except with my very wet Italix Captain's Commission with Diamine Woodland Green,there were a few tiny spots where the ink was just beginning to bleed. Showthrough: Almost all of the fine and medium point nibs did not show through. The exception is my Namisu Nova which has an exceptionally wet medium titanium nib, and Lamy Safari medium nib with the very wet Robert Oster River of Fire ink. Almost all of the broad and stub nibs did showthrough, with the exception of Conklin Duragraph because the ink is fairly light in color, and surprisingly the Delta Capri Marina with a very wet broad nib filled with GvFC Deep Sea Green. Overall, I am very impressed with these little notebooks. I would recommend these to any student who uses fountain pens, particularly with fine and medium nibs. And with the black or dark blue cover, this would be acceptable for professional use as well as long as your use is non-archival.
This is an ongoing bleed-through comparison test between ten different commercially available notebooks. This test will continue as long as there is interest in it and pages remaining in the current set of test notebooks. Method This is a simple test, and will involve three steps: 1. Every time I fill a pen with ink I will write the names of the pen, nib size, and ink in ten different notebooks. 2. I will assign each entry a score indicating the severity of bleeding based upon predetermined thresholds. Absence of bleed-though is scored with a checkmark. Bonus points will be given for each additional page side where ink is present. A plus sign indicates that the ink has bled onto the subsequent sheet and the number following it indicates the number of sides bled onto. e.g. an ink that bleeds ink onto the next sheet will get a +1, an ink that bleeds through that same second sheet will get a +2. 3. Points will be tallied at the end of each round to a cumulative total, and the leaderboard will be updated. Lower numbers equate to higher bleed-through resistance. Objectives 1. To determine what notebook paper, of those tested, has the best resistance to bleeding. 2. To see how the same ink appears and behaves on different paper. 3. To see what inks do well on otherwise bleed-prone paper. Qualification Notebooks must meet the following qualifications: 1. They must have at least 30 ruled lines to accommodate ten sets of two written lines with one blank space in between each entry. 2. They must have side wire binding with perforated pages. Ten notebooks take up a lot of workspace and wire binding is ideal as it allows notebooks to fold back on themselves into single stacks of paper. Having detachable pages is only important for ease of scanning. Two exceptions were made, as noted below, because these examples were deemed too important to be excluded due to format. 3. The cost of notebooks must not exceed $12.00 CAD including shipping if applicable. This includes instances of sale prices and promotions. In cases where notebooks were obtained free of cost the price would reflect the lowest price found online. The Contenders Scoring Notes 1. I have debated whether to post a scan of the back of each page but have decided against it. We all know what bleed-through looks like. It would be twice the work in scanning and uploading, and in many cases there would be very little or nothing at all to show on the opposite side of the page. Also this is a comparison between notebook paper and not a focused review of one particular product, and so the empirical aspect takes precedence over individual peculiarities. Refer to the scoring examples for an approximation of bleed-through severity. 2. The white sticker at the top of each page is to provide a standard white balance to each example. 3. The Maruman Mnemosyne notebook is the only B5-size notebook, chosen because there are thirty lines per page, and a larger A4 notebook would have many more lines than needed 4. The Clairefontaine and Black n' Red Casebound notebooks are the only ones without perforated pages. Additionally, the Black n' Red Casebound notebook is the only one without wire binding. This is because neither was locally obtainable in a perforated wirebound format. 5. Two Black n' Red notebooks were chosen because, examined side-by-side, it's very obvious that they have different paper. The paper made in Poland is significantly smoother by touch. 6. The show-through on Staples Sustainable Earth is strong enough that what bleed there is may not be noticed without close inspection. However hidden or understated, bleed will still be counted and scored in full. 7. The Polish Black n’ Red notebooks bleed mostly at the printed lines. Line bleeding is not omitted or counted partially in the overall score and no separate score will be given discounting it. ROUND I Scorecard Standings: 1. Clairefontaine - 0.0 2. Cambridge - 0.5 T3. Rhodia 80gsm - 1.0 T3. Staples Sustainable Earth - 1.0 T5. Black n' Red (Germany) - 2.0 T5. Maruman Mnemosyne - 2.0 T7. Five Star Heavyweight - 7.0 T7. Hilroy - 7.0 9. Black n' Red (Poland) - 9.5 10. Staples Notes - 16.0 Cumulative Bleed-Through Score By Sample: Sample 1 - 0.5 Sample 2 - 8.0 Sample 3 - 1.5 Sample 4 - 8.5 Sample 5 - 8.0 Sample 6 - 1.0 Sample 7 - 8.0 Sample 8 - 6.0 Sample 9 - 1.0 Sample 10 - 3.0