(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
A few weeks ago I did a review on the Camel Traveler's Notebook. Although I like the Traveler's brand notebook covers, I've always wanted a more substantive cover–one with pockets and more elastic bands. So, I ordered a Chic Sparrow notebook in narrow (which fits Traveler's Notebook refills).
Chic Sparrow offers all sorts of leather covers in different styles and colors. I opted for the American Dream Deluxe because I wanted blue leather (a color they call "Tranquility"). The deluxe version includes pockets. You can also opt for embossing, but I didn't want to pay extra for that.
My Chic Sparrow arrived seven business days after I ordered it. It came in a soft mailing package and was wrapped in brown paper tied with twine.
I must say the leather and craftsmanship on this cover are top notch, and I love the Tranquility blue color. The leather is thick and beautifully stitched.
The Chic Sparrow brand is embossed on the back, but the branding is subtle.
There are three card slots and one large pocket inside the front cover and one large pocket inside the back cover.
The notebook has four thick elastics, so you can easily include four (or more) notebooks. The elastic on my American Dream Tranquility is white, which will show every bit of dirt. Unfortunately, you don't get to pick the color of elastic when you order the notebook. I would have preferred a dark blue or turquoise.
The notebook has a leather pen holder stitched into the cover. It's a good size and will accommodate many pens (fountain or otherwise). I discovered my Faber-Castell Ambition in Blue Ocean (review here) is a perfect match for the Tranquility blue.
I've put four notebooks plus my plastic zip holder in the notebook. I'm sure that it could hold several more notebooks, but I don't want it to be too thick.
Chic Sparrow makes their notebooks in small batches. So, when you go to the site, you may discover that the notebook in the style and color you desire is not available. It's worth waiting for the one you want. Just fill out the "in stock reminder" to be emailed when the product is available again. Be sure to order it quickly, though, because they run out fast.
The American Dream Deluxe in Tranquility without embossing costs $89.99 plus shipping. I got 10% off with a coupon since I was a first-time buyer. As always, value is highly subjective. Some people wouldn't want to pay such a high price for a notebook cover. But, for me, the fact that it is handmade and its quality and craftsmanship justify the high price. This is a gorgeous notebook cover, and it is going to be my every-day carry notebook. So, it was well worth it to me because it is going to see lots of use and abuse.
- This is a beautifully-crafted, handmade notebook cover with excellent-quality leather and precision-stitching.
- Unlike the Traveler's Notebook brand covers, the deluxe ChicSparrow cover comes with four elastic bands and pockets inside the front and back covers.
- The deluxe version also has a leather pen holder that is stitched into the cover and is quite sturdy.
- The Chic Sparrow comes in all sorts of colors, not just brown and black.
- This cover can accommodate at least four notebooks (and plenty more, depending on how thick you're willing to go).
- The Chic Sparrow notebook cover is more expensive than the Traveler's Notebook brand covers, but you get more bang for your buck.
- You can't choose the elastic color for your notebook. It would be great if they would offer that as an option.
- Because notebooks are made in small batches, you may have to wait a while before you can order the style you desire.
**I purchased the Chic Sparrow American Dream Deluxe in Tranquility with my own funds and was not compensated for this review.
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