Black to basics: A short review of the Black ‘n Red hardback wirebound notebook

A4, A5 & A6
A4, A5 & A6

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.

White, lined, perforated an wire-bound
White, lined, perforated an wire-bound

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 sturdy wire binding
the sturdy wire binding

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.

The dreaded ink blot test
The dreaded ink blot test

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?

AFWAP

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10 thoughts on “Black to basics: A short review of the Black ‘n Red hardback wirebound notebook

  1. Great review thanks. I do remember stumbling across these in a major big box store and fell in love with the cover and the overall construction. That was before my conversion to fountain pens so my paper requirements were not so stringent but this book always performed. They have since dropped off the shelves around my area. I suspect because they were on the upper end of the price range. Still love’m though.

    1. Hi Bob, thanks for the comment. They’re prettey easily available round here, as I say more expensive than own brand stuff but not as expensive as the more specialist stuff.
      Kind Regards
      Gary

  2. Thanks for your review. I found these via a penpal who sent me a letter written on the paper and I love them. I use fountain pens often and I like the way the paper takes the ink. I found them at Staples and they are cheaper at Staples.com than in our local Staples store. Go figure.

    1. Hi Jackie, thanks for taking the trouble to comment! Glad you’ve found somewhare to purchase these, I never understand how things are priced anyway, but the cash is better in our pockets than in theirs!
      Kind Regards
      Gary

  3. These are great notebooks. It’s good to be able to find a decent quality notebook like this in most stationers (even my local TESCO has the Black n Red range).

    I use an A5 one at work to take down notes while on the phone. No matter what pen I pick up (usually a fountain pen) it works great on the paper, and still dries quickly.

    Another good thing is, at least in the ones I’ve had, there is a page of useful info such as conversion tables, envelope and paper sizes, a map of the world, and time zones. For my job which is international freight forwarding that kind of info is amazingly useful to have to hand.

    1. Hi thanks for the comment, yup the conversion tables are useful, though not as useful as the guide to sake thats in my Japanese Hobonichi planner (joke – I dont drink…) I have a number of these and have found a store where the A6 pocket versions are only 99p – bargain…
      Kind Regards
      Gary

  4. I heartily second your comments on Red n’ Black notebooks. I prefer the casebound versions since I have a deep-seated adversion to spiral bindings. I’d like to get my hands on an A6 pocket version, but they don’t seem to be available in the US.

    1. Thanks for th,e comment, I like the casebound but love the these wirebound even more but it has to be the hardback, not sure about the flexicovers….

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