I finally decided to take the plunge and order the Baron Fig Confidant notebook ($16). I purchased the Dot Grid format which was widely recommended by other paper-and-pen enthusiasts. I haven’t bought an A5-ish sized hard cover notebook in a long time so it was about time. Though, the Baron Fig Confidant is actually a bit smaller than an A5, if you want to get technical, at 5.4″ x 7.7″.
The book ships in a protective paperboard box with an advertising specification sheet included on top extolling the features of the Confidant such as the lay-flat design, acid-free paper, 12 perforated pages in the back of the notebook, and its 192 page count.
The book itself has a soft warm-grey, book cloth cover and a sunshine-yellow, cotton ribbon bookmark. The corners are rounded which are aesthetically appealing. The book does not have any closure elastics or inner pockets and the interior branding is minimal.
The first thing I noticed was the bookmark was already starting to fray even before I removed my book. I love the idea of ribbon bookmarks but I’m always peeved if the ends are treated to keep them from fraying.
I didn’t have any Fray Check handy (available in the sewing section of your local craft shop) so I applied a liberal dollop of white glue (like Elmer’s) to the end of the bookmark to keep it from fraying any further. The photo above is before the glue has dried completely so you can see how much I applied. Once dry the glue is clear and should protect the ribbon from fraying any further.
Now, on to the all-important paper and writing samples. The paper is a soft, warm white rather than an ivory or bright white. I think its a happy medium for daily writing and note-taking. Its not so yellowy as to dramatically change ink colors but not a harsh bright white that might blind with tis glare during an early morning writing session.
When I first opened the book the grey printed dots seemed large to me but once I started writing, they really disappeared visually for me. As someone who generally favors blank notebooks used in conjunction with a guide sheet, this was a pleasant surprise. Often times I find printed lines are too dark for the fine lined tools and light colored inks I like to use. The Baron Fig dot grid did not interfere with my writing.
AS I tested my variety of pens, the only issues I had was with the Kaweco Ruby Red cartridge in the J. Herbin Rollerball. It took a long time to dry which I find often happens with some red fountain pen inks when combined with the overhand left-handed writer. All the gel pens, ballpoint and felt tipped pens worked beautifully and the paper has a pleasant texture making pencils enjoyable on the paper as well.
The fountain pens I tried fall into the “everyday use” category like the Pilot Varisty, Kaweco Sports and Liliput and a couple TWSBIs and I threw in my new Super 5 with the 0.5mm stub italic nib just to see how it would work. There was no feathering on the paper with any of the fountain pens, not even the Super 5.
From the reverse side of the paper, there was a little show through with the TWSBI filled with Sailor Jentle Yama Dori. I love the color of this ink but its been the culprit of show through on all the notebooks I’ve been testing lately. Alternately, the Super 5 with the stock blue cartridge it shipped with had NO show through at all so sometimes, you have to blame the ink for being particularly showy. The only other show through I got with this batch of test pens was the Retro 51 Tornado with the Schmidt with the P8126 refill. Its a rich dark black but the show through is minimal with no real bleed through.
All in all, I’m quite pleased with the performance of the paper in the Baron Fig Confidant. Its definitely better quality paper than A5 notebooks found in most book shops these days for a similar price. I do worry that the light grey covers will show dirt and oils easily so I’ll be curious how the book looks after its been used regularly. Hopefully, my book mark hack will keep the sunny yellow ribbon from fraying into oblivion which is really my only grumble.
Gourmet Pens put the Baron Fig through its paces including extensive fountain pen tests and ink drying times if you’re looking for more thorough testing. Check Pennaquod for dozens of other reviews on the Baron Fig Confidant.