Today, I got the chance to review a new series of notebooks from a UK-based company called Monsieur Notebook. These books are sized similarly to an A5 (regular 5.5×8.5”) and an A6 (pocket 4×6”) Moleskine but with real leather covers for just a few dollars more than a comparable sized Moleskine. The books are handmade in India and there’s a note on the inside of the wrap that states that the production of these books are “providing fair wages and sustainable jobs.” The fact that these have leather cover, in an of itself, make these books very appealing to me. I wonder about how Indians feel about making leather books, I thought cows in India were considered holy. That fact aside, I need to see what’s between those covers!
The pocket sized book has a warm honey-colored cover and heavyweight drawing paper (96 pages of 140g which is about 60# cover to we Americans). The cover was tanned in a very natural way which creates some tonal variations. It looks very natural and very real. I actually quite like the look of the variations in the tanning. The black cover looks completely solid black.
The A5 is solid black leather covers with ruled paper stock (about 192 pages of 90g/24# ivory). Inside both books is a little chop to put your name and information surrounded by a classic Art Nouveau border. There is no pocket on the inside of the back cover like most notebooks these days. I haven’t gotten to use the book for an extended length of time so I can’t say if I’ll miss the pocket or not.
The sketchbook has sturdy cream pages and an orange ribbon bookmark. The ends of the bookmark are sealed lightly so it should keep it from fraying which is a nice addition.
The pages are stitched signatures which are then glued to the leather cover. It takes a little work to soften the spine so that the book will lay flat because the leather is stiff but I suspect that this book will “wear in” beautifully.
(please ignore the type above, sometimes my doodles don’t spell very well)
But the true test of any notebook is how it holds up to ink and other materials. I haven’t had a chance to test watercolor or other heavier art supplies to see if it can withstand those materials but the heavy stock seems less coated and toothier than the Moleskine sketchbooks which I loathe (sorry, Moleskine). With fountain pen ink, Hi-Tec-C and other assorted office pens, the Monsieur Sketch held up beautifully.
Even from the reverse side of the stock shows no real bleed-through.
The Monsieur Lined stock is much lighter weight than the Monsieur Sketch with medium gray narrow-spaced lines. I am super picky about lines on paper but the warm ivory color combined with the medium gray lines is not too vibrant or distracting. But, of course, how do they look when they are separating my poorly formed letterforms?
Well, lookie there! I see the words, not the lines. And there’s no bleeding of the beloved fountain pen ink. Sweet!
(Note: most pens and pencils used can be purchased at Jet Pens, of course.)
And from the back? The black liquid ink shows through just a bit but both are designed for other uses than writing and note-taking so I was pushing the limits with them.
And let’s not forget the subtle branding on the Monsieur notebooks is just a blind-debossed, monocle-wearing, mustache-enhanced Monsieur!
I am smitten with these books. I will not be gifting them to any of the vegans I know, but my meat-loving, leather-shoe-wearing husband has already requested one of the notebooks and then proceeded to take them both to work to show them off. When was the last time a non-office-supply junkie spouse stolen one of your notebooks and showed it off? That’s high praise indeed!
3 comments / Add your comment below
Really good review. This now means I must have a Monsieur Notebook sketchbook! Amazing how they actually look like a notebook with character!
I bought a couple of these in A5 size when they were launched here in the UK just over a year ago. They did everything that you would expect and I enjoyed using them.