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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Leuchtturm1917 Notebooks





There are two different videos I made here, the first covering an overview of the brand with an explanation of the different sizes and formats, and the second where I compare the two different types of paper in Leuchtturm1917 with Moleskine and Rhodia.

Leuchtturm1917 is a brand of journals that we've been asked about a lot in recent months, so we had to look into them for ourselves. When it comes to paper shopping, we're always a little skeptical of any new paper we hear about, as most companies just don't make products that hold up to fountain pen ink. Well, after trying Leuchtturm for ourselves, we were impressed, especially given the price. The paper isn't absolutely premium for fountain pen use, with the right (or should I say wrong) pen and ink combinations, you certainly can push it past its limits to evoke feathering and bleeding. But this paper's threshold of pain is pretty high, higher than anything I've used in this price range before, and their notebooks have a lot of really cool details that make the brand as a whole something really unique.

Here is a bit of their history, as quoted from the Leuchtturm1917 site:
Founded in 1917, Leuchtturm can look back on over 90 years of experience in the production of high-quality stationery. The company was re-established in Hamburg from 1948. From the 1960s, Leuchtturm’s international expansion continued apace, culminating in the company becoming the world’s leading supplier of postage stamp and coin albums. Axel and Max Stürken took over management at the end of the 1990s as the fourth generation to head the traditional Hanseatic family-run company. 
Experience and consistency are important requirements for quality. Quality gives ideas a solid foundation on which they can develop. We are convinced that small details can make a big difference. 
Some items, such as the springback binder, are still made in the same way as they were back in the days when the company was first set up. Since then, many items have been added to our range. All LEUCHTTURM1917 items unite the belief that success stems from quality and well thought-out detailed solutions. Today, LEUCHTTURM1917 stands for premium quality in more than 50 countries.
The most exciting thing about Leuchtturm1917 is the format, the details, and the value. These notebooks cost significantly less than other notebooks like them, and the build and paper quality is impressive for what you're paying. They come stacked full of paper, have numbered pages with a table of contents to organize the book, back pockets (on everything but the Jottbook), and even come with stickers to label the binding so you can quickly glance at your journals on a shelf. They have done a lot of cool stuff with these.

Leuchtturm1917 numbered pages in every notebook.

Place for a date at the top of the page.

Table of contents at the front of each notebook, to organize your book.

A place for the name and address at the front of the notebook.

Back pocket on hard cover and soft cover notebooks (not the Jottbook though).

Perforated sheets (ranging from 8-28 total, depending on the notebook) in the back of most notebooks.

Thank you card from the owners, Leuchtturm1917 history, and stickers to label your binding available on most notebooks.

Rachel and I cover a lot in the videos, but there are honestly just so many different little details that it's hard to go over everything, especially the subtle things that change from one notebook to another. We've put an incredible amount of time and effort into detailing and photographing every aspect of these notebooks on GouletPens.com, so that will be the best way to see the specifications of each different product.

There are three basic cover types, the Hard Cover, Soft Cover, and Jottbook. Among these, there are three different sizes available, the Pocket (A6, approx.), Large (A5, approx.), and Master (A4, approx.). The prices on the entire notebook line range from only $6 to $28, so you definitely get some serious page for your buck. They have notebooks in blank, lined (5mm on most notebooks, 8.5mm on the Hard Cover A4 Master only), 5mm graph, and 5mm dot grids.

There are some really neat colors, too! Most of the colors are only available in the ruled format, but that could change in the future.





The paper itself is (in my view) better than Moleskine, not quite as ideal for fountain pen ink as Rhodia/Clairefontaine, so there will need to be some consideration given about which pen and ink (mainly the ink) used on this paper. I tested several inks but there's no way I can test anywhere near the 700 inks we have, so I'd love to hear from anyone with Leuchtturm1917 experience which inks work best. It's been pretty evident that Leuchtturm1917 has catered to more of the pencil/ballpoint/rollerball crowd that Moleskine serves than the fountain pen community, but they are very interested to learn more about fountain pens and what we crazy ink lovers want in our notebooks. Part of what got me so excited about working with Leuchtturm is that they are so open to feedback and excited to learn about our community, so I can definitely see them taking a lot of our feedback to heart. This seems like a company that is very user-oriented, and that's something that I can get behind.

***One thing I forgot to mention in the post originally, but the labels for the notebooks actually hold up quite well to fountain pen ink. Here's a sampling:

Leuchtturm1917 labels with fountain pen ink, holds up well!


This is a brand that we've been really excited to begin carrying, and I think it will find a nice cozy place in the fountain pen world. We're offering a significant part of the Leuchtturm1917 line of notebooks at GouletPens.com. If you have any feedback about anything, don't hesitate to ask me in the comments below. I'd love to hear what you think!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

53 comments:

  1. my favourites! I am using Leuchtturms since last year and glad to see, that you have these notebooks in your store :)

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  2. very glad you've got these now. I had a regular journal (dot) and a graph pocket notebook. In my experience they've got a bit more flex in the spine so they lie flatter than my Rhodia. A nice mix between moleskine (cover style) and Rhodia (dots available, good paper, new color options).

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  3. I've tried the 'large' (i.e., medium) 80gsm notebooks and really like them, even though the paper is a bit less resilient than Rhodia. I love the more subtle cream shading. That and the little details like page numbers, table of contents and labels really make this brand my favorite.

    I've come really close to ordering my next one from one of the very few other U.S.-based companies that offer it, but I'm thrilled to be able to buy it from you now! I'm finally going to try the thicker paper in a slim master.

    In fact, I just placed my order. :)

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  4. I have a large red one, which I am less than enchanted with. It soaks up shading at best, and at worst bleeds. What's worse, is that the worst bits of bleeding show up as dark spots in the actual writing, which gives a rather nasty mottled effect. It's a shame, because the paper (and the notebook) are really lovely otherwise, so it's great to know they're willing to listen and make changes.

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  5. I'm glad you like them! I was impressed with them, and we had a lot of people asking us to carry them. I'm glad it's worked out so that we can do it, I think these notebooks have a lot to offer.

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  6. How old is yours? They changed the paper over from 70g to 80g in 2010, and apparently this made a big difference. It's true that the new paper isn't as ink resistant as some others (like Rhodia/Clairefontaine), so it does shade less.

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  7. Haha, thanks! I'm more than happy to give you a reason not to go elsewhere for your paper ;) Let me know how you like the slim master! It uses 100g paper, so you'll probably like it even better than your 'large' notebook.

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  8. Yeah, I'm kicking myself a little bit for not talking about how flat they lie, it really is one of their better features. I figured I'd cover it in more individual reviews of specific notebooks. Thanks for mentioning that though :)

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  9. I love using Liberty's Elysium in my TWSBI 540 M in my Leuchtturm. It has the 80g paper, and I don't have any issues with bleeding or feathering. I recommend that combo!

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  10. I've been debating whether or not to get one of these! I love the colors and the paper quality looks good, but I guess I'm wishing that the more quirky colors come in bigger sizes..

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  11. I'm glad you are carrying them now! It's my go-to notebook, although I must say I haven't tried the Rhodia ones yet.

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  12. I bought it in a department store in Madrid in May. It may have been fairly old stock.

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  13. Michel de MontrealOctober 10, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    I love the Leuchtturm dotted notebook. I find the paper to be great, I actually really like the interesting and subtle feathering.... it's strange but yeah....... and I personally don't mind the ghosting or little bleed so much(depending on the pen and ink one uses) cuz I only write on one side of the page... anyway.... nuff ramblings.... I love this line of notebooks :)

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  14. Very glad to see these, i have been using them for a year or so as my notebook at work. Personal journal is still Rhodia, but these are a close second in paper quality. I haven't seen the master size before, and am anxious to try them.

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  15. These look very interesting! I'll definitely order a couple to try out. I have an affinity for fine nibs and mild inks (esp. J. Herbin), so I think they'll probably work well for me.

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  16. I am just wondering if the slim black....largest in size....slim in depth comes with 100gm paper and BLANK....100GMS=? pound paper

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  17. Yup, the Slim Master is 100g paper and does come in blank: http://www.gouletpens.com/Leuchtturm1917_Blank_Black_Slim_Master_Notebook_p/lbmt13.htm

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  18. I've been told J. Herbin is one of the better inks for this paper, so you should have a good time :)

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  19. Yeah, the Rhodia is definitely still my favorite when we're talking strictly paper, but there are a lot of other factors going on here. I don't see any reason why Leuchtturm notebooks can't serve some uses, Rhodia others. It all depends what you're doing with it. Definitely though, the Master is a sight to behold!

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  20. The more positive aspect of the paper is that it is faster drying than a more ink resistant paper like the Rhodia, which a lot of people really like in a journal, especially if you're writing on the go. I think these notebooks are pretty neat, and will do well for a lot of people.

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  21. That could be. I know in the US they changed the paper over from 70g to 80g in 2010, but it can take a while for old stock to work its way through a lot of the retailers.

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  22. Nice! I love Liberty's Elyisum, I just do :) I found it did well in my Lamy 2000 with a medium nib, too.

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  23. Well, the colors are available in the A5 sizes, but if you want an A4 notebook in a crazy color, that's going to be hard to find in any brand.

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  24. yay! Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? ;) Rhodia is good stuff, it really is, but it is almost twice the price of Leuchtturm. If you want the absolute top paper quality, then Rhodia is your ticket, but Leuchtturm paper will serve the needs of a whole lot of writing styles out there, no question.

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  25. If I remember right they make some of their notebooks with actual leather covers, at a higher price of course. Any chance you guys are going to stock these or would they be more of a special order item?

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  26. They do...I saw that on the UK website but it wasn't something presented to me as an option from our US distributor. I'll have to inquire about whether it's something that we can get regularly or if it'll be a special order situation. Whether or not we stock them will depend first on availability to us, but also on the price and demand that we have for them.

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  27. Do the blank (no line, no grid) come with a line guide that you put under the current page, so the lines show through? I could have sworn that I've seen that mentioned on other web sites.

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  28. The Master and Large blank journals do, the pocket does not.

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  29. The little details, like page numbers, have had me curious about these notebooks for some time. I suspect that certain pen and ink combinations will not work at all, but I think there are some that will be fine. The little details might be enough to offset the not quite as FP friendly paper. The page numbers look especially useful to me as I number the pages in my journals already - it'd be nice to not have to add numbers by hand each day!

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  30. I completely hear ya. It might be worth the tradeoff, maybe not. I tried to show as much as I could in this video, but it's going to come down to individual preference about if the paper will suffice or not.

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  31. Are the labels in the back of these notebooks fountain pen friendly? How does the paper in these notebooks do with really pens with really broad nibs (BB and up)?

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  32. Actually, they hold up really well! I forgot to test them before this video, but I just did a writing sample with a few inks and they do pretty awesome. As for the bigger nibs though, it's going to be pushing the limits, I think. You'll need very bleed resistant inks to make them work, because the more ink you put on the page, the more likely it is to feather and bleed. I'll actually update this post with an image of the labels.

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  33. do you make one with watercolor paper for art jounalists?

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  34. I'm SO glad y'all are carrying these! I have found that I like them better than Rhodia because: the paper is a bit more absorbent, so the ink dries faster--AND the paper is actually off white not apricot! Can't wait to get some :)

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  35. My favorite part of this notebook is the numbering and table of contents. I take a lot of notes during meetings (it helps me to remember) and being able to acces them quickly due to content page and page numbers makes looking back at those notes very helpful. Also, distinguishing between short stories in a notebook can sometime be difficult this greatly aids in finding them quickly.

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  36. Leuchtturm1917 doesn't have any watercolor notebooks, I'm sorry! Stillman & Birn will be the best for that. I have a review of them here: http://www.inknouveau.com/2012/05/stillman-birn-sketchbooks-overview.html

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  37. I like them for different reasons than the Rhodias. Trust me, I still love me some Rhodia, but I can certainly see the appeal of these as well. I like having options! :)

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  38. Definitely, most of the people I know that use notebooks like these religiously always number their pages anyway, so it's definitely convenient to have them done already!

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  39. bored_and_agitatedOctober 24, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    squeaky wheel gets the grease, so imma say it now, I love the white! and the linen! hope those two colors spread to the other sizes and get dot grid. hope Leuchtturm1917 is listening (:

    oh, and blank and dot on the jotters, too!

    are you guys gonna carry all these models then kind of drop down to only the ones that sell well?

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  40. Haha, I'm glad you like them! We're actually talking to Leuchtturm about expanding their dot offerings, so expect that to happen in the coming months. Not sure about the Jottbooks, we'll see about those. As for our offering, we're pretty much planning to keep things as they are and expand for the foreseeable future. We'll only start dropping stuff if there is widespread disinterest for a certain product, or if we've had it for 6-8 months and not had to reorder it. Usually we try to stock full lines of any brand when we can.

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  41. This is an older post of yours, but I recently got a couple of these notebooks, and wanted to offer some comments. First off, I do like them quite a lot. I use F and EF nibs pretty exclusively, but with the different inks I've used (Noodler's, Diamine, De Atramentis) so far, I've had some ghosting, but no bleedthrough or feathering. I love the details -- the table of contents, the numbering, the labels. These were all things I did on my own anyway, but it's nice to have them done for me.

    In the end, though, I'm strongly suspecting that I'm going to go back to the Quo Vadis 6.25x9.25s, though, even though they're $10 more/notebook. The reason is simply that I hate spending the first 50 pages of a notebook fighting with the spine to keep the book open. I can deal with it when I'm writing, although I find it irritating, but when I'm typing things up later, and I have to keep fidgeting around to hold pages down with various weights so that the pages don't flip on me? Not worth it. So that would be my feedback for Leuchtturm -- loosen up the bindings so the books lie flat, and I will love you forever and ever!

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  42. Thank you for the thoughtful feedback! This is good to hear...and I completely understand where you're coming from.

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  43. That's great! Sounds like these are exactly what you want.

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  44. Lamy & Leuchtturm LoverMay 14, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    I recently bought one (well 3) of the plain paper A4 books. They come with a writing guide (lines on one side and a grid on the other) which is very useful. I am using the book for documenting business projects and the paper is very good for reworking pencil drawn diagrams. The grid writing guide makes the diagram drawing easier.

    The book is covered in black leatherette and looks very professional at a meeting. I have poor handwriting and use a fountain pen (or two). I use a Lamy 2000 (filled with Lamy blue-black ink) when at meetings (EF or B) and the Leuchtturm paper is FP friendly.

    At home I use a few Lamy Safari FPs filled almost exclusively with Lamy inks.(I have put some italic nibs on my Safaris and they do improve my penmanship.) A 1.5mm italic nib with Lamy Black does cause a little ghosting but it is bearable.

    The books themselves are excellent. The details are superb, the writing guide (with plain paper books) the pocket, the page numbers, table of contents and the ribbon. I cannot recommend the Leuchtturm enough. I have used Moleskine folio books and I've recently discovered Leuchtturm - they are fantastic.

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  45. Brian, can you please tell me the name of the piano track you use at the beginning of the paper review video? thanks!

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  46. Love these notebooks. Yes, the paper does not hold up to significant flexing via copperplate as good as some, but holds up very well to pretty much all of my daily writing. I love the dot grid, but 5mm is too small for writing comfortably, and enjoyably, for me, and 10mm (using two lines) is way too big. I just ordered a ruled webnotebook from Brian. I would have gone with the Habana but they shrunk their ruling down to 5.5mm (Stupid move, ruined the greatest notebook ever). If I have one thing to say to Leuchtturm, its that they have an almost perfect notebook, especially for the price, but it's simply no fun using an italic in a 5 mm prison. I looked, and I do not think anybody offers a dot grid with 7 or 8 mm spacing. I love the dot grid idea, and it broke my heart to order my Rhodia with ruled because their dot is also 5mm. If Leuchtturm offered a larger dot grid option, I think it would be used more and more by people who mainly write, but want the options offered by dots. I do not think dot will ever compete with rulings and blank until someone offers larger spacing, but without making the actual dots any larger. Am I wrong, or would you buy a 7mm dot over a 5 mm? Thanks for the great content Brian.
    P.S. Are you familiar with the refillable la compagnie du kraft notebook? Awesome way to have a refillable notebook that is also bound. Plus the materials are amazing. You won't like the texture though, but I'm sure can appreciate the craftsmanship.

    Thanks

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  47. I've use Noodler's Black with one of these journals and there is no bleed-thru or feathering.

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  48. STAY AWAY FROM MONTBLANC IRISH GREEN!




    This ink has completely bled through my brand new leuchtturm in my lamy 2000 medium nib, and even in my Lamy Safari EF nib. The bleed is almost as bad as the gruene cactus that Brian showed in the video, and I'm very unhappy about that.

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  49. This paper is every bit as fountain pen UNfriendly as Moleskine. Cheap paper, not much better than writing in a Mead notebook, but still at a premium price. It's less than, say, a Webbie, but still $18. If you won't carry Moleskine because they are so bad for fountain pens (and you're right, they are), I don't think you should be offering this brand either, without giving the clear caveat, "Look, these are simply not fountain pen friendly because of the quality of the paper." Saying to go on an "ink quest" to find something passable is really a disingenuous way to skirt around the issue. People shop at Goulet to buy stuff suited for pencils and gel pens. These make my EF nibs write like mediums.

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  50. (should be "people DON'T shop at Goulet to buy stuff suited for pencils and gel pens." Sorry, confusing typo.

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  51. There is quite a bit of ghosting and show through but no feathering and the paper has a very nice surface especially if you are the kind of person who dislikes the glassy/dry/chalky feel of Rhodia/CF papers. This paper has some tooth. It is true that even the 100gms paper of the "Master" size (performed identically to the 90gms paper they sell) isn't as ink resistant as Rhodia papers and the tooth of the paper may cause your pen to run wetter but this is good paper, esp. if you don't need to use both sides. I get lots of pooling and shading on it, like the faint lines and off white color of the paper (paper is for reading and writing and this color is perfect for reducing glare w/o too dramatically messing with your ink colors.) The binding is excellent. Page numbers handy and the soft cover version lays 100% perfectly flat as does the Master size. The "Large" less so but over time it gets better as the binding breaks in. The HUGE downside for me is the absurdly narrow spacing on the lined paper. 0.5mm is way too tight. So I have to use the blank and a guide sheet below (comically their supplied guide sheet is too WIDE haha) but while that is a pain in the butt the result does look best of all. This paper, while not perfect is MILES above Moleskine and is a good alternative for those of use who just can not get on with Rhodia's formica-esque surface. I like some tooth to give texture and to pull the ink out of my pen. A dramatic shading ink like Yama-dori looks spectacular on it. Performance is mediocre but the surface of the paper and construction of the book itself reedems it. Price is okay too (comparatively). I wish it didn't show through so much but it doesn't feather but if you must use both side of the paper look elsewhere, especially if you are using a B nib and a wet dark ink (like Diamine Midnight, forget about it.)

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  52. I have a Leuchtturm A5 notebook and really love it. With the elastic band keeping it closed when not in use, the pages are not crumpled during a busy day. I also like the fact that its "A5" size is consistent. (Unfortunately, some A5 notebooks are slightly larger than others - Seven Seas Tomoe River Paper, for example, which I love! - and that means they cannot fit into my GFeller leather cover. Leuchtturm fits perfectly, and the elastic band goes through the vertical slot in the cover in the back and still works.) For me, stitched signatures like this are essential. I use loose leaf paper at my desk for letters, but they fall apart from me if carried weeks on end.

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