The Clairefontaine Back To Basics Le Carnet 1951 notebooks are cardstock-covered and a cahier style. The covers are flexible cardstock, perfect for folding open or back as needed. This book is 5.8″ x 8.3″ and contains 48-pages. It’s staple-bound in two places and is filled with 90 gsm paper.
They remind me of composition notebooks. I love this size for office notes especially with its diminutive page count that is perfect for one project. Sometimes, larger notebooks have too many pages and I have to put multiple projects in the same book. Sometimes I just want the old project GONE. So this notebook is a good option.
The only real rub for me is the wide line spacing and the slightly darker-that-I-prefer lines. One or the other issue wouldn’t be so bad but both wide ruled and dark lines make me sigh — I wanted to LOVE this notebook with abandon but now… I just hope the paper quality makes up for it.
The paper inside is smooth, bright white. There was little to no show through on the reverse side of the paper. The Parker 21 with the Noodlers Violet had a tiny bit of bleed through but everything else had no ill effects on the reverse. I could defintiely use both sides of each sheet without issues.
Once I got ink on the page, the lines didn’t bother me quite as much. I did discover that some inks did not dry fast enough on this paper — at least not fast enough for a messy lefty. I think if I stick to some of the inks that pride themselves on quic-drying, this would not be an issue. Pencil handled beautifully on this smooth stock — a Blackwing on this paper is a fabulous combination!
I did a series of drying time tests just to get a better idea if all, or only some, inks took a long time to dry. None of the inks I tested were specifically formulated to be “quick-drying” so I think I shouldn’t have too much trouble once I try a quick-dryer. At this point, the Lamy Blue Black performed best so as long as I’m not too impatient, I should be okay with this notebook.
As I’ve said before, being a lefty can be a pain. Sometimes, I have to decide between really good paper that might not allow for quick ink drying and cheaper, more absorbet paper that might bleed through or spline. This book, since the price point is so reasonable, is a good chance for me to have good paper, even if it might not become my everyday notebook. Is it everyone’s dream to have the perfect all-tool notebook?
A set of two Clairefontaine 1951 notebooks are a mere $8 a set so its totally worth it to try them out.
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About the lines… I have a Clairefountaine notebook with French lines and I like it. The lines are a light blue, too. I don’t suppose the 1951 notebook comes with that choice?
I only saw the option for the darker blue, wide ruled for the 1951 notebooks. I’ll check about other line options for the 1951.
I think I do have a french ruled notebook somewhere I might try soon.
I’ve been using both these 1951 notebooks in 96 and 192 page forms, but find the thicker ones have a spine that restricts opening too much. But they’re stitched so are more securely-unlikely to shed pages than stapled types.
The paper used is reputedly among the best stock for fountainpennery, and I think it’s about perfect for my needs. My inks are nearly all by Diamine and those behave perfectly to my eyes on this paper.
The A5 size suits my scribbling needs perfectly. I can’t get on with smaller or bigger ones. These just – fit.
There’s another that I’ve used moreso, which are the A5 Black’n Red book bound 192 page notebooks, with Optik 90g ruled paper. I like the hard covers and the stitched binding, which unlike the 1951 192 page examples mentioned above easily open to the binding core.
This Optik paper seems to me to be the equal of the Clairefontaine stock, so overall I find the BnR notebooks suit me better overall, although I do like the “cahier” style of the 1951 series too. “takes me back” you might say.
Both of these notebook types are excellent in overall quality. The BnR ones are sometimes available by the 5 or 10 bundle at a reduced price via Amazon. Worthwhile keeping an eye on those. The 1951s occasionally reduced too, currently less than £2 each for the thinner easier to use version, must be a real bargain!