I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to write a review about the Curnow Leather Journal Cover ($45), the Nanami Paper Seven Seas Standard Notebook and the Curnow Plain Paper Insert. I thought I should write them as separate reviews, or as comparisons to other products, but in the end, I realized, that the best way to review these was how I purchased it and how I actually use it.
The beautiful, stitched teal leather cover is flexible but not too floppy and came from Curnow Leatherworks. The cover has four elastics. The white elastic on this cover is a little stretchy, I wish it was a little stiffer but I can switch it out eventually.
I purchased the cover from their table at the St. Louis Pen Show for $45. They offer an array of colors and you can email or contact them via Facebook.
Inside, both the front and back covers, they’ve included secretarial pockets. The only branding is the Curnow logo mark on the back pocket, printed in black.
The secretary pockets in the cover are just big enough to tuck a package of stickers, a postcard, some postage stamps or other paper detritus away to keep it from falling out whenever I open the notebook cover.
The A5 plain notebooks are $19 for a 3-pack. Other sizes and paper colors are available through their Facebook page. The A5 plain notebooks from Curnow are made with Tomoe River 28 gsm paper. I couldn’t make a decision about the myriad of color choices available for the cardstock covers so I bought white and figured I could cover them with stickers.
The paper was great for testing ALL the inks at the ink testing stations at the pen show in St. Louis since it’s a nice natural white. We discovered, at the close of the show, that all the ink testing stations still had ink in them so after we packed up our tables, Jesi and I (and several other folks who were hanging out late) absconded with the two testing stations and dragged them into one of the ballrooms and tested every color. It doubled as a great way to put the Curnow mini notebook to the test.
As you can just see from the photo above at the top of the image, there is a little show through from the reverse side of the page but that is to be expected with the tissue-thin Tomoe River paper. There was, of course, no bleed through, even using the cheap dollar pens that had sat all weekend in the ink testing stations at the pen show.
I was also able to pick up a Nanami Paper Seven Seas Standard ($28) at the St. Louis Pen Show from Dromgoole’s. I had always wanted to try their version of the Tomoe River paper notebook and the Dromgoole’s tables were next to ours at the St. Louis Show. On Sunday, it was slow enough I could wander over and discover that they had a plain paper edition which is always my preferred format. So, I grabbed it and tucked it into the Curnow cover I’d purchased earlier in the day.
The cover of the Seven Seas Standard is a textured, almost-bookcloth, cardstock laminated to the cream end papers. Its not super heavy duty but helps to maintain the streamline look of the notebook. I love the neutral brown cover with no branding at all. The cover can be decorated to my heart’s content or left plain and professional if that works better for your needs.
I used multiple elastics to hold the larger Nanami Paper Seven Seas in place, since it has 480 pages. It was Jesi (see her comments and set-up below!) who had suggested using the Curnow cover with the Seven Seas notebook in the first place. She was using a similar set-up and it looked like a perfect way to strengthen the soft, flexible paper cover on the Seven Seas and use one of Curnow’s wonderful A5 leather covers.
As a lefty, I was worried that the lightweight Tomoe River “notebook” paper would take too long to dry and I would end up with it all over my hand and smears everywhere but so far I have had fairly good luck with my daily writing pens.
The notebook also came with a pink “blotting” sheet to use when closing the book on particularly slow drying pages and a guide sheet on cardstock.
The only thing I wish is that the paper was a little bit whiter. The Curnow paper is whiter, which I prefer for ink color fidelity but the softer white is a little less harsh and doesn’t shift the ink color dramatically.
Both the smaller Curnow notebooks and the Seven Seas Standard have rounded corners with help keep them from looking dinged and worn and make the edges match perfectly.
Since arriving home, I’ve removed the ink testing notebook since I don’t really need that for work everyday and carry a small Curnow notebook for work notes plus the Seven Seas Standard for my everyday notebook. It’s my everything notebook at the moment where I can write a journal entry, a list, test some inks or a new pen, doodle, write ideas for a blog post, whatever I want, because with 480 pages its going to take ages to use them all up.
If you’ve been in the market for a leather journal cover, I can’t recommend the Curnows highly enough. The covers are well-made and extremely reasonably priced. If you are going to be at the San Francisco Pen Show, make their table one of your first stop.
As for the Nanami Seven Seas Standard, why did I wait so long to try one of their notebooks? While $28 may seem like a lot of money for one notebook, it does contain two-to-three times as much paper as other notebooks like Leuchtturm or Rhodia and it has the coveted Tomoe River paper too.
DISCLAIMER: I purchased everything in this review with my own money. I was not compensated in any way for this review other than the sheer joy of using these products.