Ask The Desk: Commonplace Book Options & Staples

Rhodia Webbie

From Bruce:

What notebook would you recommend for a long-term commonplace book? I regularly use Moleskine for everything, but for this notebook I’d like something with thicker paper and built to stand some years of use. Suggestions? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

If you will be using fountain pen inks in your commonplace book, I’d recommend either a Rhodia Webnotebook or the Quo Vadis Habana. Both use Clairefontaine papers which are great quality, heavier stocks than Moleskines. They would work great with regular ballpoint and rollerballs as well and are available in lined, blank, grid, etc.

If you want something a little lower priced or don’t need as much fountain pen friendliness, then I’d definitely recommend the Leuchtturm1917 line. Lots of cover color options, sizes and paper ruling and its good for most writing tools but not as bleedproof as the Clairefontaine stocks.

Rhodia Webbies and Quo Vadis Habanas tend to have cream/ivory paper rather than bright white but the Habanas are offered in bright white through some retailers.

All three brands feature the same elastic closures as a Moleskine as well as a pocket in the back for loose items so it would be an easy transition for you from the Moleskines.

Sometimes, I find the Rhodia/Clairefontaine papers “too nice” and they give me blank-page panic so I would personally be inclined to use a Leuchtturm1917. But both are great options.

If you’re looking for something you could find more easily in most cities and towns and don’t mind blank pages, any black hardbound artist’s sketchbook would work great for a commonplace book. My local Blick art supply store is currently selling their house brand sketchbooks as buy-one-get-one-free. Michael’s, Joann’s and other craft stores usually stock Canson, Strathmore, or Cachet sketchbooks which all have acid-free, approx. 65 lb (96 gsm) paper that handles most pen, ink and pencil beautifully.

My reviews of:

Also check with the Pennaquod search tool for other pen bloggers’ reviews of notebooks.

TOT Stapler

Bill writes:

I need staples for a Swingline 53 no place in Sioux Falls  has them.

I did some research to try to locate which model was the Swingline 53 and couldn’t find it listed anywhere on the internet. I’m going to guess that it is similar to the Tot 50 or other mini stapler. In which case, locating Tot or Tot-like staples is going to be a breeze. There are some sellers on Amazon and Ebay that offer original TOT staples. A search to either site will uncover plenty of options. Or you could buy No. 10 sized staples. Jet Pens sells plain silver No. 10 staples for $1.50 for a box of 1000 or anodized colored staples for $3.30 for a box of 1000. My TOT pictured above is currently using the anodized green Max No. 10 staples and they fit perfectly.

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6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thank you! I didn’t expect such a detailed response! I’m interested in the Leuchtturm1917 Master notebook as an option right now. However, I will probably spend the afternoon analyzing reviews of every notebook you mentioned! The attention to detail in the Leuchtturm1917 is intriguing as well as the paper quality. I use fountain pens regularly, but for this commonplace notebook I’m seeing more casual writing with rollerballs, etc.

    Thank you SO MUCH 🙂

  2. I use a spiral bound notebook from Barnes & Noble (Piccadilly) for my commonplace book. I collect articles, poems, snippets of articles, drawings, etc. from various publications, and I have found that the paper works well with fountain pens and all kinds of pens. I also use a book band that I got from Jetpens (you can also get them from Levenger) to keep the book closed (sometimes I just insert an article in the book).

  3. I like the Rhodia Webbies (roughly 5×8) with dots for my commonplace book. I have many volumes. Goulet is my resource.

  4. I was in a Hobonichi Techo for my CP Journal which I just began in January; the Tomoe River paper makes them quite fountain pen friendly. However, the page size was a little smaller than I liked and I realized I was avoiding journaling. Since the pages are dated, this led to a disturbing number of blank pages. I just relocated into the Midori Travelers Notebook size, and am going gangbusters in it now. 🙂 I use the Banditapple notebooks though; the paper stands up better to fountain pen use than Midori stock.

  5. I love Rhodia pads, which I use daily in Court on when consulting with clients. But for my daily journaling, I use the Leuchtterm 1917 because of the index in front and the page numbers. I’ve tried all kinds of ink (Noodler’s, Diamine, Rohrer & Klingner, J. Herbin, and Organic Studio) and never had the first bleed-through.

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