Stationery Slut

I recently outed myself as a lover of dinosaurs (although not in this kind of way), but I also have another vice. Well, okay, I have several, but in this instance I am talking about stationery.

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Yep. Stationery. Its a lustful kind of vice, and one that I keep reined in for the most part. I don’t have stacks of notebooks waiting to be filled, I don’t have drawers full of pens, pencils or inks waiting to be scribed with. But desires … yes. I’d happily buy and buy and buy.

Where did this avarice stem from? There are a couple of things that you need to know. Firstly, I was one of those children who enjoyed school. I wasn’t part of the “in crowd”, but I wasn’t bullied – at least not any more than anybody else – I had good friends and I genuinely loved learning new things. I still do. Secondly, we used to holiday in France growing up. You may or may not know this, but going back to school in France is a serious business …

La rentrée scolaire

La rentrée scolaire

La rentrée scolaire means aisles and aisles of text books, paper, exercise books, pens, pencils, desk supplies, pencil cases and more types of fountain pen than you can squeeze your nib at. Every September I’d return to school with a (new) pencil case fit to bursting with markers, highlighters, coloured pens, rulers, erasers – everything your favourite underachieving over-achiever could even possibly think about owning. Invariably by Christmas they’d been whittled down to the merely necessary and all my plans of neatly compartmentalised and refer-by-colour notes had been abandoned in preference to the easily-scribbled (but probably indented).

In College it got a little better. My Psychology tutor used to roll his eyes when I got out my blue, black, green and red pens at the start of his lectures … This was before we had an argument about parapsychology and I got bored of being one of the same two people to answer questions …

But my heart always belonged to the pens and pencils. I’d stand breathless in the aisles of E.Leclerc not even daring to dream of asking my mother to buy red ink cartridges, let alone green or purple … At that time the French were (and still are to a degree) lovers of either graph paper or plain paper in their journals and exercise books. Graph paper was for Maths and plain paper solidly for Art. I wanted ruled lines. With a margin, thank you very much. Something that the pre-eminent French stationer, Rhodia, with its iconic orange-and-black colour scheme, did not do at the time. (And I’m talking about this Rhodia – not the other Rhodia.)

Black N Red Casebound Notebook

Black N Red Casebound Notebook

So when I started journalling in my teens, it was to the standard of British stationery I turned – Black n’Red and their hardback A5 Casebound Notebook. 

I still have several of these, filled with my scribblings from about the age of 15 up until my early 20s. Most of it was probably quite self-indulgent (but then isn’t all journalling to some degree?) but it helped me figure things out in my own head at a time I truly needed it, even if looking back on the entries now often causes me to snicker.

I also use one of these notebooks for my genealogical scribblings, and especially so when I go to a records centre or a cemetery for making notes – and also jotting down reminder questions or facts I already know. This works extremely well if I’m researching for a client. I like the free-ness of these notebooks.

Yes, they’re simple and elegant and nicer to look at than (for example) a top wirebound journalist’s notepad, but they allow me to put things where I want to put them.

Makes sense to me ...

Makes sense to me …

At the time, had I been able to afford it, Moleskine would’ve been my permanent friend. I do have a Moleskine address book and a lovely friend bought me a Notebook XS in the most brilliant red a few years ago. I have to confess that I like it so much that I haven’t actually used it yet …

I also want to point out two other things about Moleskine notebooks … the first is the range of Special Notebooks that they produce with specialised cover art such as The Hobbit, Lego and Star Wars. The second is their range of Evernote Smart Journals – these notebooks connect with Evernote and allow you to create a digital and organised collection of notes. More details here.

Evernote Moleskine

Evernote Moleskine

Last year, on a trip to France, I noticed that Rhodia had created something new … the Webnotebook, aka the Webbie. This allowed Rhodia to up its game (along with some other new collections) to compete with the Big Boys such as Moleskine and the like. It also comes with blank, dotted or lined 90g French-milled pages inside its Italian leatherette cover. (Incidentally, dotted paper seems to be a big thing with stationers at the moment – doesn’t do anything for me as a writer, but perhaps for those of a more artistic or designer slant it makes ears prick up.)

I have an A5 Webbie in black, but A4, A6 and A7 versions are available, in portrait or landscape, and as Webnotepad versions. All available in either black or orange.

Another brilliant marketing strategy from these guys is the Rhodiarama … little A6 notebooks of joy in a selection of wonderful colours. These match up with many other similar products such as Leuchtturm1917’s Pocket Notebook and Moleskine’s Coloured Notebooks.

Rhodiarama

Rhodiarama

There are a couple of other brands that I love – I’ve mentioned one briefly (Leuchtturm1917) and the other is Field Notes. I should also point out that I love these simply for the products they make – I have never purchased one from either of these (although I noticed with glee on Saturday that my local branch of Watersones stocks a selection of Leuchtturm1917 notebooks). And I can never love Field Notes as much as these guys

In closing, there are two further sites that I wanted to share with you, both of which add to my atavistic joy of paper stationery. Rhodia Drive is an American blog dedicated to the French orange-and-black notebook. You may feel that this is a bit limited for an authorised blog, but it also covers a wide range of other stationery-related posts. I especially love the Link Share posts.

Rhodia Drive

Rhodia Drive

The second is an online retail outlet … Bureau Direct was originally an independent shop based in Covent Garden, London, opening in 1995. In March 2003 the webstore opened, and in 2005 the shop closed for good. I love this store (and not because I won the first thing I ever won EVER on this site – a gold Caran d’Ache pen). I love what they stand for, and I particularly love Stationery Wednesday …

Bureau Direct

Bureau Direct

 

 

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