The last notebook I used as a refill in my Gfeller notebook cover1 was a Leuchtturm 1917. There’s a lot to like about the Leuchtturm notebooks. The pages are pre-numbered, and there are a few pre-printed ‘Contents’ tables at the start of the notebook where you can write the page numbers of particular topics once you’ve finished the notebook and are archiving it. They even provide neat white labels for the front and spine so that you can file them neatly on your shelf. Along with those advantages, they have all the nice features of the Moleskine and its imitators, including a ribbon bookmark, rounded corners, and a slip pocket at the back, as well as an elastic closure, and they are quite reasonably priced. I got a dotgrid version (my new favourite notebook flavour). They work nicely as a daily notebook, and the A5 size happened to fit in my Gfeller cover, even if it was a bit of a tight fit.
However, I won’t be buying another one. The big problem for me is that the paper just isn’t substantial enough for fountain pens. I found that the line from my Lamy 2000 would feather on the page quite significantly, and the show through from the previous page was substantial. That makes it too distracting to write on a page that is already used on the other side, and it’s also annoying to try to read what you’ve written. I think if you used a fine-nibbed fountain pen that was a much drier writer, you might have better luck, but with a wet, medium nib, it’s really not practical. I could just write on one face of the page, but that seems wasteful. So, reluctantly, I’m not going to buy another Leuchtturm.
What I decided to get instead is what I should have bought all along: a Rhodia Webnotebook, which is after all what my Gfeller cover was made for. The paper is amazing. It’s incredibly smooth and velvety, and takes fountain pen ink from a variety of nib widths beautifully. It even makes my Pilot Capless with the fine nib — that I’ve found to be a rather dry and occasionally scratchy writer — feel smooth and effortless. There’s also absolutely no show-through, even with the Lamy 2000. I got the dotgrid printed paper, and I love it. I’m a real convert to dotgrids, and find them a perfect compromise between the giddy freedom of a blank page and the comforting reassurance of lined paper. I sometimes draw diagrams, and the dots are great for guiding your lines if necessary, or for keeping tables of figures lined up. The dot printing on the Rhodia is very discrete: it’s enough to guide your lines, but you don’t tend to notice the dots when writing or reading.
Then I went a bit Rhodia-crazy. I also wanted to get a notepad to keep on my desk for jotting down ephemeral things. I often use scrap paper or stickies for that, but the stickies are too small and the scrap paper gets lost too easily before I’ve used or transferred the information on it. Rhodia also make a lovely dotPad (that Cult Pens now sells) which has the same gorgeous paper but in a head-stapled pad. The attention to detail on such a simple pad is amazing. The stiff cardboard cover is pre-scored so that it neatly folds back for writing. The underside of the folded back part even has a small Rhodia logo in the centre, so that each page you write on has a neat black ‘header’. It’s hard to explain, but very attractive. The pages are micro-perforated so that you can remove them when you want to without any mess or scruffy bits of torn paper2. And the sheets are just as wonderful to write on with a fountain pen as the Webnotebook pages.
I can see that I might develop a rather problematic Rhodia habit.