So recently The Well Appointed Desk shop launched an incredibly “limited edition” notepad made with new old stock typewriter paper. At the time of writing, the pad has sold through its final replenishment batch. Although these products are no longer available for your purchase consideration, I thought I’d take a moment to go over a few of the features as well as discuss a few of the more basic considerations we as stationery nerds might make in today’s climate.
(Disclaimer: This product was purchased at retail price. All opinions stated are my own.)
The Vintage Writing Paper pad was made using 75gsm fluorescent white erasable bond. This paper is 25% cotton with a cockle finish, meaning it has a rough, uneven feel. This type of finish (which I had to look up) results in a very unique feel and writing experience. Each pad measures 5.5 by 8.5 inches and holds 50 vertically-oriented glue-bound sheets.
The Vintage Writing Paper pad was available with two cover options, red or blue. Each cover has color-matching interior ruling along the top and bottom margins. Whether these rulings had another purpose back when typewriters were in common use, I may never know. But for our purposes (for the Aesthetic) they add a nice vintage look to each page.
Fountain Pen Friendliness
The product listing described this paper as “SUPREMELY fountain pen friendly” and I have found that description to be supremely accurate. In fact, I’d go so far as to warn away anyone using gel, ballpoint, or rollerball pens. In my initial testing, standard ball-mechanism pens have trouble rolling over the rough surface, resulting in skipping and consistency issues. Pencil seems to work well, though it smudges if you look at it the wrong way. I’d honestly go so far as to say you should avoid this type of paper unless you have a fountain pen or, I suppose, a typewriter.
While the paper may not show off every shade or sheen like Tomoe River, it does hold the ink very well. When testing with even my broadest and wettest nibs, I was delighted to find absolutely no feathering, ghosting, or bleed through. Given the unique texture of this paper, I was expecting to see at least a little ink creeping through the cracks and crannies on the surface, but the ink stays put.
This paper is the “writing with chalk on concrete” of stationery. It’s the “crunching dry leaves underfoot” of stationery. It’s the “typing out a love letter on a mechanical keyboard YOU built with tactile brown switches” of stationery and at the price of $8 per pad, I cannot recommend it highly enough. But like any limited edition, and tears in rain, they are gone. Boxed up and shipped out to those with the fortuitous timing to have made a purchase. Sure, there may be other cockle-finish cotton paper pads on the market, and someone so inclined could certainly produce a new nearly identical product. But even if they did, I think it would be lacking the specific charm of a “new old stock” product. The charm of an item designed for a purpose long forgotten, but now finding new life.
Alright, but what about the stuff?
I’ve had a lot of time to reflect lately on the various stationery products I’ve accumulated over the years, and the purpose I assign to them. While I may not post as much as I’d like, a fair amount of my humble collection consists of items I purchased with the intention of reviewing and sharing with other curious minds. While reflecting on this small dragon’s hoard of pens and paper, I’ve also come to identify a level of economic privilege within myself, as well as the greater stationery enthusiast community. Now I’m not qualified to speak to the ethics of consumption under capitalism, but I have been consciously working on making smarter spending choices. So I thought I’d share some of the ways we can all do a little better to be Ethical Pen Addicts.
This one is a no-brainer, and pretty simple in our hobby. Specialty pens and paper are already a niche market, so most of your shopping options are already small businesses. But even if you’re buying a Pilot Metropolitan or a Leuchtturm1917 notebook, the money you spend can go a lot further when paid to a Vanness Pens or Goldspot-type shop rather than an Amazon, for example. eBay is still a viable alternative to the Amazon as well, and Etsy is even better for shopping small businesses that may not have a direct store website.
And just for funsies, here are a few small businesses I shop frequently that don’t often appear on pen blog sidebars:
- Skylab Letterpress – I’ve already linked to Well Appointed Desk enough, don’t forget to check Skylab.
- Nock Co. – Okay, not exactly an unknown brand, but Nock makes great cases that are built to last.
- The Pen Market – Restored vintage pens, frequently updated inventory.
- Lemur Ink – General fine-writing shop based in Indiana, USA.
- Peyton Street Pens – Unique fine writing AND restored vintage pen shop in California, USA.
- Birmingham Pen Co – Family owned & operated makers of beautiful inks and pens.
- Inky Converters – Incredibly cute pen pun-based stickers and washi tapes.
- Galen Leather – Beautiful leather covers and accessories that add style to your notebook setup.
- One Star Leather Goods – Another fantastic leather goods maker, based right here in Los Angeles.
Refill Your Dang Pens and Pencils!
This one is probably redundant for the type of person who seeks out reviews for cute little vintage paper pads, but I guarantee you know someone who needs to hear this. That gel pen is refillable. This might seem out of the blue, but I see a lot of data in my day-job as a professional pen marketer. Data on single use plastics, recyclable materials, and how many trees get cut down to make woodcase pencils (82k per year, yikes). I also see a lot of plastic pens being thrown away when the ink cartridge inside runs dry. Remind your friends, tell your kids. I understand if the Bic Crystal is your favorite ballpoint pen ever, but keep in mind what happens to that plastic tube once the ink has run out. (Hint, probably nothing.)
All of the above assumes that going to be actually buying more stuff, but there is more than one way to support the community. An increasing number of Content Creators are establishing Patreon pages or on-site tip jars. It’s a great way to directly support the creators you enjoy, without feeling like you’re just consuming things for the sake of getting something new.
And this last part is mostly just for me. Remember to use what you have, and use what you keep. I have a lot of pens and notebooks just taking up space in my collection. Things I purchased because at one time or another I wanted to use them. But sometimes that mood passes, and we’re left with more stuff. That is why, inspired by the generosity of other enthusiasts and creatives like The Pen Addict and Inkjournal, I’m going to be giving away some of those items with which I’ve had a fleeting fascination. Someone should use these things, they’re doing no good just sitting on my shelf. And besides, the more I clear out, the more room I have for new stuff.