The Black ‘n Red hardback wire-wound editions have long been a favourite notebook of mine (I even use one to furnish my odd habit of collecting the stickers you find on bananas… I did say it was an odd habit). This is due not only because of its looks, which I do like, but because of the paper quality and the general utility of this edition. I have a number of them in A4, A5 and A6 which make them suitable for a whole host of applications in both formal and informal settings. You may be familiar with this imprint from Hamelin in a more formal settings perhaps cashbooks and books with alphabetized pages and the like, which they certainly do in abundance. But for me it is the general notebook that stands out and has been a regular in my workbag.
Quality: This particular edition is both stylish and rugged. I much prefer the hardback combined with the wire-wound over the polypropylene covers as it gives the books a whole new dimension of usefulness. I mean that the hardback simply require less effort to write in as the cover provides the perfect support in situations where desk space is a problem, so in seminars, meetings and lectures, just flip over and the notebook is sturdy and the page well-supported and you’re ready to go!
Paper: The Oxford ‘Optik’ paper is 90gsm and bright white. It predominantly comes as lined paper (I would like something other than lined paper inside as I do find this somewhat constricting, perhaps launching out into a dot grid pattern might help, these days there are a number of options… ). The paper itself is perhaps a tad less smooth than Rhodia, but much smoother and better in my opinion than Moleskine, and Fieldnotes both over which I tend to despair as I predominantly use fountain pens. Is it the best paper I use, well its hard to tell, but it does the job well and even stands up to the dreaded ink blot test, passing with flying colours.
The wire binding is strong and stylish. The paper and cover are both attached to it firmly an the paper is also perforated. The perforations are solid and allow quick removal of sheets of paper meaning a neat extracted page rather than one with annoying overhanging chads from solely being torn off the wire binding…
VFM: I find that these notebooks occupy a mid-range price point over here in the UK. I say mid-range, I have t admit that they are nearer the top end when compared with other general offerings at your local stationers but when compared with specialist pads they tend to be both cheaper and more widely available in general stores like WH Smith’s and Ryman’s.
TWE: I have had nothing but good experiences with these notebooks over quite a few years. Sturdy and reliable they are easy to write on with any medium. Writing with a broad wet fountain pen does mean that one has to be careful as the paper does not allow the quickest drying times. One the whole I have to say that I wholeheartedly recommend these notebooks. So next time you’re out and about for your notebooks why not try a Black ‘n Red?