Notebook Review: Baron Fig Vanguard Black Box

The Baron Fig Vanguard Black Box is probably no longer a big secret but I’m going to hide the photos of the actual covers of the notebooks behind a “read more” so if you don’t want to have the surprise ruined, you don’t have to click through. Especially since the NEW Vanguard Edition launched last week. So, really… but not many folks have been talking about this edition. I feel like it got lost in the shuffle of the holidays and all the other special releases and I think people might kick themselves if they don’t grab this one since its still available so I thought I’d get my review out now. Better late than never.

Everything prior to the “read more” will not be a spoiler so feel free to continue to read on.

First, the Black Box comes in another one of Baron Fig’s excellent boxes. This one in matte black with gloss black symbols on the cover: an x, an o, a wave and a leaf. It reminds me of a puzzle, something from Welcome to Nightvale or an episode of Lost.

The big news is that its one of the first editions of the Vanguard with dot grid. AND… the paper looks to have been upgraded to the same stock that Baron Fig is using in the Confidant. The stock is  toothier than in my previous Vanguard editions and the color is creamier.

See that texture? Alternately, if you liked that smooth smooth Vanguard stock, then this is not the edition for you.

When I did a side-by-side comparison of the Black Box edition paper and an original Vanguard, the paper in the Black Box handled like the Confidant which was much more to my liking. My fountain pens were well-behaved and the toothiness of the stock meant that pencils and pen nibs didn’t slide around of their own accord.

The photo above is a close-ups of the ink handling of the two books. The bottom two frames are the same pen on the two versions of Vanguard. Fountain pen users will recognize that weird ink resistance on the right as opposed to the left which is just lovely shading. (It’s Oster Fire & Ice ink, if you’re curious.)

Okay… this is it… You want to see the cover details?

Each book cover has an almost neon linework design on black with the high gloss hit that makes it look like its thermography or engraving and gives it a tactile quality. There’s a woodsy (yeti), spacey (UFO), and watery (Bermuda Triangle) cover. You could assign a different connotation to each if you want — maybe LOST, X-files and Moonrise Kingdom? Whatever you choose, these are really awesome.

I purchased these notebooks with my own money though Baron Fig have, in the past, provided me products for review. All opinions are my own and I have received no compensation for this review.

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8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I have never tried any version of Baron Fig notebooks because I use wet/broad nibbed fountain pens and I like to write on both sides of the paper sheet – can’t do that if it ghosts or bleeds. Does the new Black Box paper with its grain/tooth stand up better than the Vanguard?

    1. The new Vanguard uses the same paper as the Confidant which shows very little show through or bleeding with most day-to-day fountain pen inks that I’ve tried. Check out my previous review of the Confidant for more in-depth coverage about the paper. I think Baron Fig has really stepped up the quality of all their products!

  2. I am not sure I understand. “Black Box” is that the name of a single notebook? Or is it a box of notebooks? What size is the box/notebooks?
    I get a monthly subscription iPens box(although I didn’t care for Feb’s color scheme of orange), is the Black Box a similar thing?Black Bix…doesn’t sound too much like stationery,does it? More like a boxed kit of some sort from the Adam & Eve collection!! LOL!!

    1. It’s the name of a collection of Baron Fig Vanguard notebooks. It is a limited edition set of three books released in December of 2016. Every quarter Baron Fig releases a special edition of each of its core products. There are subscriptions available for each product or you can get a subscription that includes all of the products in their web site. I hope that helps explain it a little more thoroughly.

  3. Fun review! I’m not a big fan of these Black Box patterns, but I DO like the new Infinity covers, so I better trot over there to get some — especially since I’m curious about that new paper!


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