Monsieur Notebook 13


This week: another topic1 that has been covered by Stationery Traffic before – The Monsieur notebook. After leaving a comment at Stationery Traffic’s Monsieur Notebooks post, the founder of Hide Stationery, Tom, contacted me and offered to send me a sample.

Notebook

Monsieur looks a bit like Mr. Peanut

I was very sure that I wanted a tan coloured notebook2, not the brown or black one. Deciding on the size was easy, too. A6 is a bit small unless you want to carry the notebook around, A4 is a bit big – so I chose A5. But what paper to choose? I didn’t want the plain 90 g/m² paper …but the 140 g/m² paper from Star Paper Mills was certainly tempting. In the end Vulcan logic won over Romulan passion and I chose the more practical, ruled version with 90 g/m² paper from BILT industries, a company which traces its roots back to 1945 when Ballarpur Straw Board Mills was established in India. BILT industries is not only making paper, they also manufacture other stationery. One of their pencils has been reviewed at pencil talk. In the future there will also be a version of the Monsieur notebook with 100 g/m² paper from the Finnish paper manufacturer Stora Enso.

Leather

Let’s look at the leather used. The leather is vegetable tanned, which means the environmental impact is not as high as it is with many other types of leather. The leather looks more red than other vegetable leathers I have seen in the past and it certainly didn’t have an artificial grain applied to its surface – you can see blemishes and marks. Personally, I like this natural, slightly rough look very much. It gives the leather a handmade and traditional look. Despite the look, the surface of the leather has a very even feel to it. So nice, that my wife first thought it’s not real leather as the surface is quite hard, but still feels smooth the same time. I have to say that she wasn’t too keen on it, maybe because of the natural look. Not that the leather is like “saddleback” leather in any way, but I would say that if you like matte, raw finished leather, like saddleback leather, and a natural look you will like this notebook – I certainly do. If you like perfectly looking leather with artificial grain, the one you see so often these days, you might not be too happy with the “naturalness” of this notebook.

Paper

Nick using a Lamy Joy (Image © BBC)

The paper performed really well. Even though it seemed to be sucking ink of very wet pens in, the picture shows this effect from a Pelikan M250, the ink didn’t bleed through the page and even though there was slight feathering with very wet pens the paper behaved well with pens that have a normal ink-flow, like the Hero 616 or the Lamy joy. Uncareful erasing of graphite with a Sanford Artgum Eraser did roughen the surface of the paper slightly, but gentle erasing was problem-free.

 

Conclusion

Overall, a great notebook. If you like leather and don’t reject it for ethical reasons3 this is a great notebook. Similarly priced as other notebooks with PVC or plastic covers, the notebook I reviewed here sells for £12.99 (~ $20.70; €14.50), but has a classic, much better feel to it.


Price and exchange rates: July 2011

I started using a new image plug-in. The old one didn’t really work well. From now on you should be able to get a close-up of most images by clicking on them. I would be happy if you could let me know, e.g. as a comment on this blog post, whether this function works well on your computer.

I would like to thank

  • Tom from Hide stationery for the Monsieur notebook, who sent me the notebook free of charge
  • Henrik for the Hero 616 and
  • Kent for the Dixon Ticonderoga.

The photo of Nick Hewer using a Lamy Joy has been taken from series 7 episode 8 of The Apprentice UK. I believe that the use of this image falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. after last week’s Staedtler UK / Tradition 110 post []
  2. which might fit well with my Sonnenleder pencil cases []
  3. Most vegetarians I know don’t mind buying leather []

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13 thoughts on “Monsieur Notebook

  • Gunther

    Thank you for that interesting review and the great photos! I have a Leuchtturm1917 notebook but I wouldn’t refuse to test this Monsieur notebook, especially in that colour 😉

    Your image plugin works well in Firefox 3.6.18 and Opera 11.50. However, the “Home/Pages/Search/RSS Feed” bar stays on top (i. e. above the overlay) when it was visible while clicking on the image.

  • memm Post author

    Thank you for the feedback. I am happy that I found a better plug-in. You are right, when the search/rss box is visible in the browser, i.e. when the user has not scrolled down, this box will be on top of the images… Hmm….

  • Stationery Traffic

    Very nice. I forgot to ask Tom about the provenance of the paper used, so thank you for finding out. On my monitor, the tan leather does look very red.

  • Chuck Collins

    I saw these notebooks on another blog a couple of weeks ago. The Monsieur website revealed a stockist just a few minutes walk from my home, so I went and bought a couple of A5 versions – lined paper. [I never feel comfortable blagging free stuff, after all, someone has to pay somewhere down the line!]
    Not too sure how long the leather will stay adhered to the cardboard cover … seems a bit iffy already. Otherwise Monsieur feels nice, looks nice and even smells nice. Do try it if you can. [Mine may even replace my Rhodia dot-webbie and vastly overpriced Midori Traveler before long]

  • Karina

    Your review reminds me that I still have a couple Monsieur notebooks on my desk that I have yet to review – actually there are a lot of things I have yet to review. My, am I behind! But I digress.

    I really like the red leather of this notebook – I received the black and brown ones, which are nice, but the red stands out more. Although, is it suppose to be tan? That’s definitely not how I image tan to look like – but then again, it might just be my monitor.

    Also, your new image plugin works well in my Firefox 5.0 on a Mac.

  • ccorrada

    very nice review, thanks. great pics. wonder how much would the shipping cost be to Puerto Rico… 😉

  • millicent

    The shipping charge from the UK to the US listed on the web site was rather steep – 20 pounds before conversion 🙁

    I am hoping for a stateside distribution channel soon . . .

  • Matthias

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    Gunther, thanks for the links to the plug-ins.

    Sean, the GvFC pen was of course one I got thanks to you telling me about the auction 🙂

    Stationery Traffic, the leather is very red, but the colour just stopped before the border line where any more would look unnatural.

    Brad, thanks and thanks the compliment and for checking in Safari.

    Chuck, I fully understand your attitude to free stuff, but I think if I don’t even ask for it but someone offers it I am happy to accept it. I do know however what you mean re comfortable. Last time I was in a shopping centre I accepted free toothpaste tubes handed out as samples. Accepting an article worth a few pence from a multinational corporation is of course different to accepting an article worth a few pounds from an entrepreneur who just started. In the case of the Monsieur Notebooks I have to say that there was also an implied understanding that I would review the notebook, but even though I did not sugarcoat the review it was still a free gift and that means of course that Tom, who sent me the notebooks had to pay for them.
    My cardboard cover is fine by the way. I wouldn’t be surprised if some leather is more suitable to be glued than other leather. It’s top-grain cattle leather, but I guess it can be from different parts of the body, every animal is different, every tanning comes out a bit different, so maybe sometimes the glue doesn’t work as well with the leather surface as other times. The smell is really nice, as you said.

    Karina, yes it’s supposed to be tan. Hoe you’ll find time to review yours soon. do you have one with the 140 g/m² paper? I would really like to know how that paper behaves. About the colour: when I first saw the notebook I was surprised, too, but it is a nice colour and doesn’t look unnatural. Thanks for checking the plug-in in your browsers.

    Ccorrada, it might be worth contacting Monsieur Notebooks about this. Maybe they will find a distributor in the USA or the Caribbean Sea soon.

    Millicent, there are already some companies outside the UK, that sell these notebooks, but as far as I know none in he USA yet. I guess it is only a matter of time before the Monsieur Notebooks will be available in the USA.

    Since the current plug-in seems to work well (except the search box staying on top) I might keep it. Thanks again for checking!

  • John

    Hi, just stumbled on your blog. Love it so far! What is the pencil that is laying on the Monsieur notebook in the very first image of this post?

  • Matthias

    John, thank you for your content. I’m happy that you like the blog.
    It’s a Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil. You can read more about it if you use my blog’s search function. Unfortunately the price for this pencil went up a lot in the last ten years.