As my collection of pocket notebooks continues to grow, I try to be more selective in what I keep around and purchase. Still, it's hard to pass up a new entry to the popular size. Franklin Christoph have been making paper products for quite a while, but this is my first time trying them out. Whenever you purchase paper products from a fountain pen maker, you can usually assume that the paper will work well with fountain pens. Fortunately, this is the case with the Franklin Christoph Pocket notebooks, and they also have a unique flair to set them apart from the pack.
To start things off, let's look at the size of these notebooks. They are the standard 3.5" by 5.5" that we've come to expect from this genre. Each book contains 32 sheets (64 pages), and features some really great bamboo paper. The paper can be either lined, blank, graph, or dot grid. The version I have is lined, and it features a 6mm line spacing. This is the typical spacing size with most Japanese notebooks, and close to "college rule" here in the states. For a pocket notebook, this is a great line spacing. If you like, you can order a 4-pack medley (about $12) that contains one of each format. The normal pricing ($10) is per 3-pack of one kind of paper format.
One unique feature that sets this notebook apart is the corner trimming. Most notebook opt for some sort of chamfered, rounded corner to make sure the corners don't snag and become tattered. Franklin Christoph went with a straight chamfer, which gives the notebook a unique look. It doesn't affect the usability of the notebook, so it's fine by me. I'm not sure I prefer this look, but it certainly doesn't detract from the experience.
One minor nitpick I have regarding the paper is the darkness of the lines in the lined version I have. It's a bit too dark for my tastes, which distracts me from my own writing or doodling. I prefer a lighter line weight so it can easily disappear into the background when convenient.
The cover material is a bit thin, but no different than comparable pocket notebooks. The binding is a tight binding that looks to be high quality, and I've been pretty happy with how it's held up. The pages open easily and don't have much trouble staying open. The same is true when the notebook is closed. It doesn't have an issue staying closed. Depending on the paper format, the cover will be a different color. For the lined version, the cover is a deep red color.
There is branding on the front and back of the cover, but it's minimal. The inside covers feature no writing/branding at all.
Finally: the paper. Made from bamboo, this paper handles different inks pretty well. I've noticed a little bit of bleeding and feathering with some inks, but it's minimal. Same thing goes for show-through. Depending on the ink/nib, you'll notice a fair amount of show-through on the back of the page. For me, my results varied. For pen/ink combos that resulted in lots of show-through, I wasn't able to comfortably use the back page. In general, the paper is fountain-pen friendly, smooth, and a nice off-white color.
In general, the Franklin Christoph pocket notebook is a great option in the pocket notebook space. I'd recommend trying one out with your next order or pen show visit.
As a bonus, I've also been using a fabric notebook cover from Franklin Christoph. There are several options available, both fabric and leather, and they're priced competitively. And, since the notebooks are a standard size, these covers will also fit other pocket notebooks (like Field Notes, etc.) as long as they adhere to the same size and trimmed corners standard.
The cover I have is the Linen Blue fabric. It has a nice denim look and features a tasteful Franklin Christoph logo centered on the front of the cover, as well as a smaller logo on the back. The logos are also made of fabric and are sewn into the cover.
In the fabric covers, you have the option of Linen Blue, Linen Brown, Suite Gray, and Suite Blue. They all cost $20 each, which is a pretty good deal.
They also offer these covers in leather. The FxCel Black and FxCel Brown covers are only $25, which is also a great price.
The covers feature pockets in the front and back with which to hold the notebook covers. I'm using mine with only one notebook, and it's pretty snug and secure. Although, you can fit two notebooks into one cover. This presents a nice option if you'd like to carry more than one notebook in a convenient cover.
The size of the cover is large enough to protect the notebooks, and it seems to be made pretty well. I can't see any wear so far, but I'm sure the fabric will fade a bit as it is used more. The tan stitching around the edges is a nice touch to the overall aesthetic. If you purchase a notebook cover, it comes stocked with one ruled notebook.
Overall, I've been enjoying the Franklin Christoph cover as a compliment to the notebook. It adds a degree of protection and also convenience if you want to easily carry two notebooks as one. The fabric is a nice departure from the standard leather fare, but you also have a couple of leather options if that's your preference. Again, check them out next time you're at a pen show, or throw one into your cart with your next order!
(Franklin-Christoph provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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