(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
When I decided to get the Life index cards, I honestly did not pay attention to the size or the word "index" on the JetPens website. In my head, I imagined them to be the same size as the now unavailable Mnemosyne Word Cards. I planned to use the Life cards to replace the Mnemosyne cards.
So, I was a bit surprised when I opened them up to find that these are 3x5 cards. I'm not disappointed in the least that they are larger. In fact, because of their size, they can be used for many more things.
The Life cards are unlined. I could not find the weight of the paper anywhere (and I tried), but the cards feel sturdy. The paper itself is creamy, and fountain pens simply glide across it. I much prefer the Life cards over Mnemosyne. The Mnemosyne cards have a texture to them that catches my fountain pen nibs. Plus their off-white color seems to affect ink color slightly. The pure white color of the Life cards offers a truer base for ink samples.
Although at first I thought maybe the Life cards were too big for ink samples (my primary use for the Mnemosyne cards), I found that the larger size allowed me to do more with my ink samples. Instead of just the name of the ink, some nib strokes, and a swab, I can include the ink name, an ink swab, a scribble, nib strokes, a water test, and a line at the bottom for color sorting.
The cards are also the perfect size for making a small photo album. I have a Fuji Instax printer, and I can print small photos straight from my iPhone and glue them on the cards. The Life cards provide enough space for the photo and a description.
Obviously the cards can be used for anything you like: to do lists, sketching, recipe cards, study notes, etc. They will handle most pens and inks well, but if you plan to do watercolor, the cards will warp a bit.
The leather cover is bare bones with the Life logo stamped on the front.
And the back has two grommets that hold the elastic closure. Two holes at the top provide a place for the ring.
Essentially, you're getting a piece of stained leather with no stitching or other design elements. The leather is not colorfast. There's a warning on JetPens saying that sweat or moisture can stain the cover or transfer the dye to other objects. While the leather is thick and smells nice, I'm not impressed with the quality, and it's pricey (the cards themselves are only $6.00, but with the cover and ring you pay $28.50–that's $22.50 for a piece of rectangular leather).
The cards, on the other hand, are high quality. They handled my fountain pens well. I had no problems with ink bleeding or nibs snagging because the paper is silky smooth. Some of my more saturated inks (like BungBox Sapphire) did show through, as did the ink swabs and water tests.
You can get the Life cards with the leather cover from JetPens for $28.50 in either reddish brown or dark brown leather. With this set you get 100 cards and you can purchase additional cards for $6.00.
- Life paper is high quality and the cards are smooth and sturdy.
- The large 5x3 size allows for multiple uses.
- The leather cover and ring keep the cards together and somewhat protected (the sides of the cards are exposed).
- The leather cover is not colorfast and lacks stitching or other design elements that might make it more appealing.
- The leather cover set is expensive.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)