Likewise in the fountain pen community when we speak of paper that is conducive to the art of writing with a fountain pen one cannot go far before being pointed to the orange & black, two tree festooned, covers of Rhodia notebooks in various sizes. The original Rhodia company with its paper originates from Lyon in France where it has been a subsidiary brand of the Clairefontaine groups since 1997 with some of the Rhodia original family members staying on with the brand, which itself started in the 1930’s.
History: The first Rhodia pad was made in 1934 in Lyon. Lyon lies on the river Rhone. People born in this region are called Rhodaniens which is how the name ‘Rhodia’ came into existence. The distinctive trademark of the two spruce trees supposedly represents the two brothers who founded the business, the design itself allegedly being drawn by their mother. The company was purchased by Clairefontaine in 1997 (now the Exaclair group that owns such brands as J Herbin, Quo Vadis et al) and production transferred to Mulhouse, in Alsace, France. Rhodia pads are manufactured exclusively on Machine No.6. The Rhodia notebook, was originally only a minor project for the company, but it became its most famous product. The orange cover dates back to the 1930s. It remains unchanged to this day. My personal contact with Rhodia stems from past holidays to France where I was delighted to find a fountain pen friendly range of paper only to be later frustrated by virtue of not being able to get at the paper in the UK on my return. Thankfully even in this remote corner of the globe things have changed and the paper has gained something of a cult following across the world, even to having its own devotee website and arriving in Cumbria (thanks @IridiumKendal)
Range: The range of Rhodia notebooks is vast and with the arrival of such offshoots as Webnotebooks, planners, Rhodiarama and Rhodiactive this shows no sign of abating. The range includes plain, lined, squared, and dot grid (my favourite) papers which range from 80-90gsm premium vellum. The papers themselves vary from white through off-white to yellow and are smooth to the touch and have an incredible capacity for holding fountain pen ink. The paper has a high opacity which limits the ghosting of text through to the other side of the sheet. Where many other papers fail, with ink feathering across and bleeding through the paper as it dries I can’t remember one occasion where Rhodia paper has put a foot wrong. It is the unspoken standard and default setting for many bloggers who perform myriad ink tests on it and time after time it performs with distinction, providing a neutral canvas on which to parade some of the best inks in the world.
Conclusion: Rhodia don’t need me to recommend their paper, its widespread use does that far more eloquently than I ever could. To say I have a bit of a thing for this paper would be something of an understatement. I love writing on it. This fascination probably stems somewhat from its aforementioned historic scarcity where I live but it endures solely because of the quality of the product. In fact looking into my study at home, you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m stocking up in case of natural disaster or World War III… then again you can’t be too careful can you?