Review: Gallery Leather Notebooks

Gallery Leather Journals

Gallery Leather kindly sent me two of their leather bound notebooks: the lime green cover is the Travel Journal ($20) and the black cover is the Oporto Journal ($20). Both books feature real leather covers and ribbon bookmark. These are clean, simple journals with rounded corners and speckled paper endpapers. Neither book has a back cover pocket or elastic band closure like some other notebooks we know.

Gallery Leather is a US company that binds all its books domestically. The paper blocks are printed overseas but all the leather working and binding is done in the US. Gallery Leather also offers personalized foil stamping on book covers for any order.  See the “personalize” tab for more information. Gallery Leather also sells photo albums, address books and other high end leather and paper goods.

Gallery Leather Travel Journal

The Travel Journal features a pebble texture leather with the word “JOURNAL” blind debossed into the center of the cover. There are a bevvy of choices available for the covers: three different material finishes and a baker’s dozen worth of colors. Also stamped on the back cover at the bottom is the Gallery Leather logo and their location “Maine”.  Inside this petite 5×7″ notebook are 192 heavyweight pages that are lightly lined in brown.

Gallery Leather Desk Journal

The cover of the Oporto Journal features a smooth leather cover with the word “JOURNAL” blind debossed in the center. Five other color options are available in the Oporto Journal : sand, red, verde, pink and orange. The books measures 8” x 5.5”  and has 192 pages. The paper is white, ever-so-slightly on the soft white side with grey lines. The lines are very fine so they are not at all distracting — enough to keep my text even but no so heavy or dark as to interfere with legibility. The Oporto also features an ivory satin bookmark with fray-checked edges (always a big plus in my book).

Gallery Leather Desk Journal flexible cover

Both journals feature a flexible leather cover. The leather is glued to a heavyweight paper endpapers giving the material a lot of flex. I bent the cover up with my hand to show how easy it is to flex while remaining sturdy and durable feeling. The book does open up pretty flat once I loosened the spine a bit.

In both books, on the last page of the text block (not the end papers) is a “Personal Data” page with lines to enter contact info. (Remind me to tell you the tale of Diane and her lost Moleskine that she did NOT put her name in as a cautionary tale.) This page also include the company info.

The lines in both books are about 6mm spacing, comparable to American collegiate ruled. Why the Oporto has grey lines and the Travel Journal has brown lines is anyone’s guess?

Gallery Leather Desk Journal Writing Sample

The paper in the Oporto Journal is smooth and easy to write on. I had no difficulties with any of the gel, rollerball or felt tip pens; pencils; or even brush pens, but the fountain pens did show some feathering. The medium European nib on the Karas Kustoms INK!, the Lamy Studio with the 1.1mm nib and the Pilot Kakuno with the fine nib showed the most evident feathering.

Gallery Leather revese side of Desk Journal

From the other side of the paper, evidence of the slight bleed through of both the Karas Kustoms and the Lamy are evident. None of the other inks showed through too much except in the darker or heavier colors but their was no bleed though except with the fountain pens. Even the brush pens had but a mere shadow on the reverse side of the paper.

Gallery Leather Travel Journal writing sample

The Travel Journal paper is notably heavier than the Oporto. Its also a smooth stock with only a little tooth. The heaver paper meant that all the tools I tested performed as well or better than on the Oporto paper. All the fountain pens were less inclined to feather. Only the Lamy Studio with the 1.1mm nib showed some slight feathering but that may have been as much a fault of that particular ink (I can’t remember what I was using, sorry!) as the pen or paper.

Leather Gallery Travel Journal Reverse side of writing sample

On the reverse of the the Travel Journal there was only the slightest bit of show through at the starts and stops of some of the fountain pen writing samples. Interestingly, the one blue ink dot clearly seen on the reverse is from the Ohto Dude. None of the brush pens showed through at all.

Gallery Leather Journals

Between the heavier weight paper and how well most of the tools performed on this paper, I would definitely recommend the Gallery Leather Travel Journal to anyone looking for good paper and a quality leather cover at a good price.

The Oporto is a beautiful journal and I would definitely recommend it as well, particularly if you are not wanting to use fountain pens with it. Its a fine upgrade to a  Moleskine which retails for $18.95. The extra $1.05 for a real leather cover and considerably improved paper is worth the upgrade.

The Giveaway:

Gallery Leather has been kind enough to offer two lucky readers the chance to win either the Oporto or Travel Journal. So, how do you enter to win this awesome giveaway? Just tell me which color cover and whether you prefer the Oporto Journal or the Travel Journal in the comments to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, March 3, 2014. US Residents only, please. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winners will be announced on Tuesday. Winners will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Fulfillment will be handled by Gallery Leather.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Gallery Leather for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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83 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Dear Ana,
    Thank you for such lovely review of how the two journals differ. I love the intimate size and happy color of the lime green Travel Journal, and I would love to win it! Thank you and Gallery Leather for the opportunity. I would fill the pages of the journal with poems and prayers and secret thoughts.

  2. Between the green and the black in your post, I definitely prefer the green, and I like that the Travel notebook has thicker paper. I’d definitely opt for the Travel notebook. But if I were to choose from the selection on their website, I’d have the hardest time trying to pick a color! I think I’d probably go for red, though, knowing me. 🙂

    Thanks for your post and the opportunity to win one of these!

  3. I would go with the Travel journal in mocha. Looks fantastic! With the personalization options, this seems like a no-brainer.

  4. I would love the Travel journal in orchid for my upcoming trip to Morocco. (Maybe camel is more appropriate, but orchid is my favorite!)

  5. Thanks for the giveaway! I’d pick the travel journal, since I like paper with a little bit of tooth, and I’d get it in Orchid! Such a lovely color 🙂 I like the Kiwi, too!

  6. I really like the Oporto Journal. The paper seems nicer on the Travel journal, but I rarely write with a fountain pen. I like the blue or black covers.

  7. Ana, thank you so much for putting this lovely product on my radar screen. Seems like these journals are a great value for the money. And, thank you for such a thorough review. I appreciate all of the ink/pen test comparisons, because that type of thing is always super helpful. If I were to choose for myself, I might go with the Travel Journal in Camden Red.

  8. The heavy paper and the violet swatch make the violet travel journal my choice. I’d love to win one!

  9. Thank you for the opportunity to try for one of these. I had not seen them before. I’m wondering how they compare to Paperblanks.

    1. Denise, the paper in the Oporto amd Travel Journal are a bit toothier than the Paperblanks. I had similar results regarding showthrough and bleedthrough between the Paperblanks and the Gallery Leather Oporto. The Gallery Leather Travel Journal holds up better to fountain pen ink than the Paperblanks.

      Paperblanks have printed paperboard covers designed to simulate the look of leather while the Gallery Leather notebooks have actual leather covers.

      Finally, the Paperblanks do have a pocket and sometimes a clasp or elastic to close the book while the Gallery Leather Journals do not.

      Does that help?

  10. I’m in the middle of a brown phase right now so I would pick the Mocha Travel Journal to match the brown lines. My orange Kaweco Ice, currently inked with Sepia, would be very happy.

  11. Thanks for hosting the giveaway! If I were to pick one, I would choose the lime green travel notebook. I like how smooth the leather looks, and it has a warm pastel feeling to the color.

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