Review: Blackwing Notebooks

This spring, Blackwing added two additional notebook options to its line-up. Previously the only notebook they offered was their flagship Slate notebook ($22.95). Now joining The Slate is the Clutch pocket-sized notebooks ($14.95) selling in packs of three and the larger Summit notebook ($21.95). All three notebooks share the same 100gsm paper and all three are available in dot grid, ruled and plain paper.

However, each notebook has slightly different design elements. Theoretically, it make some sense to have simpler design elements in a pocket notebook than in a larger notebook but the inconsistencies seem a little strange. The Slate has an elastic band running horizontally around an exposed spine that holds a Blackwing 602. This design feature is unique to the Slate only and not on the larger Summit. Obviously, it wouldn’t work on the Clutch because a full-sized pencil would be too long but it might have worked on the Summit. Also, the Slate has a pocket in the back for loose paper where the Summit does not. The Summit is the most traditional “black book” but it features a flexible leatherette cover with a traditional binding rather than a more traditional hardcover like the Slate. The Clutch has a slightly more flexible, paper-wrapped, leatherette cover. They all appear to look similar and since the chances are good that most people will only be carrying or using one notebook at a time the differences won’t be glaring. Transitioning from a larger to a smaller notebook, or vice versa, might make these differences more apparent.

To make the aesthetic difference more clear, here’s a breakdown of the details:

Individual notebook details:

Clutch Notebooks:

  • Set of 3
  • 5.5×3.5″
  • 48 pages in each
  • 100gsm, natural white
  • 5mm dot grid (grey dots) (also available in lined and plain)
  • Sewn, flat binding
  • Flexible, paperboard cover

Slate Notebook:

  • 5×8.25″
  • Leatherette cover with exposed, sewn binding, hardcover
  • 100gsm paper, natural white
  • 160 pages
  • 5mm dot grid, grey dots (also available in lined and plain)
  • elastic on spine with Blackwing 602 pencil
  • black satin ribbon bookmark with finished end
  • gusseted pocket in back of notebook
  • notebook log on front flyleaf, notetaking ideas on back flyleaf
  • vertical elastic closure

Summit Notebook:

  • 7.5×10″
  • 160 pages
  • 6mm ruled, fine grey lines (also available in dot grid and plain)
  • flexible leatherette cover (heavier than Clucth covers, rounded finished corners)
  • standard covered spine
  • black satin ribbon bookmark with finished end
  • 100gsm paper, natural white
  • notebook log on front flyleaf

Technically, the only issue I had was, that for paper designed for pencils, the grey dots and lines are a bit dark. I found the printed grey a bit intrusive with all but the darkest graphite. This is why I tend to prefer plain paper best. Trying to find the perfect shade for lines or grid or graph is so challenging.

The paper, however, is very good. The 100gsm paper worked well with almost every tool I used.

I was pleased to discover the paper worked well with more than just the pencils that Palomino Blackwing  is so well known for.  The 100gsm paper works well with fine and medium fountain pens, gel pens, felt tips and quite a few brush pens and, of course, all sorts of pencils.

On the reverse of the paper, the fountain pens didn’t get any bleed through and very little show through either. I got a tiny bit of spreading on the KWZ Raspberry ink that may have been more a result of overall humidity in the air than the ink or the paper. Overall, I had decent ink performance – far better than I anticipated.

Even with brush pens, I had good results. The dots also did not seem to resist ink the way that the Baron Fig paper sometimes does.

I decided to take “the Ladies” (that would be the Lady Sheaffers) out for a spin on the paper as well since there is a full range of nib sizes and quite a few different ink colors as well. I even have pencils! So I glammed up the Clutch with a little Lady Sheaffer Skripsert action.

Some of my pencils have non-repro blue lead and some have regular  HB lead. All the pens have Sheaffer cartridge ink in them at the moment as I’m emptying cartridges to eventually  have cartridges to fill with ink.

Even from the back, there’s little evidence of show through and no bleed here either. Impressed? Me too. Enjoying a little close-up view of my Lady Sheaffers? Me too!

So, despite my fussiness about the product line quirkiness, the paper is awesome. I found the dot grid to be a little dark but not more so than Rhodia which is still the darkest. And the dots don’t resist ink like Baron Fig sometimes does. So, if you’re looking for a new or different notebook to try, the Blackwing options really are contenders. They have the full range of sizes and unless there’s a key feature that makes or breaks your notebook experience (i.e. must have a pocket in a larger than A5 size) than these notebooks really have a lot to offer.

THE GIVEAWAY: So… what’s in this for you? How about three (3) chances to win your own Blackwing notebook. I’d like to giveaway one (1) 3-pack of Clutch dot grid, one (1) Slate dot grid and one (1) Summit lined notebook.

THE RULES: In the comments, tell me which notebook (the Clutch, the Slate or the Summit) you would like and why. One entry per person. Play by the rules. Thanks.

THE FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, June 12, 2017. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Tuesday. Winner 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 10 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US residents only please.

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

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  1. Thanks for the giveaway! I would like the Slate Notebook. The features make it a great size for a journal and I am in need of a new one soon!

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