The William Hannah Pocket Notebook: A Review

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(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Long ago I reviewed my first William Hannah notebook--an A5 notebook in Agave and Petrol. I still adore that notebook, and I’ll be posting an article in November describing how I’m using it with the new Daily Intentions filler pages.

Because I love my A5, I decided to purchase a William Hannah pocket notebook in Whiskey and Kingfisher.

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It only took about one week for my new pocket notebook to arrive from England. One thing I absolutely love about William Hannah products is the exquisite packaging. My pocket notebook arrived in a sturdy cardboard box with a hinge opening.

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Inside, my pocket notebook was wrapped in William Hannah tissue paper.

The three pocket notebooks that come with the order were also neatly packaged in textured card stock.

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I realize it’s just packaging, but there’s something special about the care with which each William Hannah product is presented. You can tell that someone (namely David Round, the owner) lovingly hand wrapped each piece.

The pocket notebook, like all other WH notebooks, is beautifully designed. The leather on the outer cover is smooth and gorgeous. The stainless steel WH button adds a touch of flair to the cover, and the stitching is immaculate. The William Hannah England imprint is subtle and tasteful.

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The leather is luxuriously thick and soft to the touch. Not only is there an outer and inner leather cover, there’s also a suede lining.

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For a pocket notebook, the William Hannah is pretty large, measuring 150mm (H) x 105mm (W) x 29mm (D). So, while it might fit in large pockets, it probably won’t fit in most shirt or pants pockets. I carry it in my backpack.

Inside, you’ll find two slots for cards (credit or otherwise). In addition, there’s an elastic pen holder which is removable, though I don’t know what you might put in its place.

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Along with the notebook, you choose three pocket notebooks measuring 90mm x 140mm (3½ inches × 5½ inches). Each one has a textured card stock cover in a variety of color choices. In addition, you can choose from plain, lined, grid, and dot grid paper. I chose a lined notebook in Tabriz; a grid notebook in Cobalt; and a dot grid notebook in Mandarin.

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William Hannah paper is amazing. It is a beautiful, pure white paper, and it is thick (100 gsm). Although I love Tomoe River paper, there’s something to be said for good, thick, white paper if you don’t want any show through.

I tested my notebook with fountain pens, and the paper held up beautifully. I encountered no bleeding or snagging, and the tiny bit of show through was too minimal to photograph.

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I also did swabs. Once again, the paper performed perfectly. Even with thick swabs of ink, there wasn’t enough show through to photograph.

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I practiced some calligraphy with Sumi ink, and the paper handled that easily.

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Finally, I tried various writing instruments from rollerballs and ballpoints to highlighters and a Sharpie. Only the Sharpie exhibited show through, but that’s to be expected. And, honestly, I was surprised how little of the Sharpie ink /bled/ through the paper.

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William Hannah notebooks are extraordinary. Nevertheless, there are a couple of weaknesses.

First, William Hannah notebooks do not have a closure system. This is not a deal-breaker for me, as I mainly use my A5 at home and keep my pocket notebook in my school backpack. However, this is, perhaps, /the/ main (if only) complaint people have about the WH notebooks. I tried using an extra elastic from one of my Travelers Notebooks as a closure. It’s a potential solution, but I think it mars the beautiful simplicity of the notebook.

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Second, the pen loop is fairly small. Even though it’s elastic and will stretch to accommodate thick pens, you have to keep in mind the limitations of the notebook’s size. Thick pens make it more difficult to keep the notebook closed, and long pens can extend beyond the notebook’s borders. I decided to keep my Caran d’Ache Nespresso Ballpoint Pen in my WH Pocket Notebook. It’s the perfect size and length.

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I’ve not found any notebook that comes close to the quality of William Hannah’s products. Of course, you do pay a premium for these notebooks. My pocket notebook was 79 pounds (approximately $102 plus shipping from England). I think it’s totally worth the price, considering the quality of the leather, the craftsmanship, the many color choices (both for the outer cover and inner suede lining), and the excellent paper in the pocket notebooks.

(I purchased the William Hannah Pocket Notebook with my own funds.)


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Posted on October 5, 2018 and filed under William Hannah, Notebook Reviews.