Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: @WilliamHannahUK Whiskey & Kingfisher Leather Notebook

I love a good notebook, but a notebook that makes you feel like filling it up, refilling it, then filling it up again? Mmm now that's really, really good. I write everything down, and having a notebook where I can remove and replace pages is ideal.
Put pen to paper...because writing helps. William Hannah notebooks were designed to be a place where your notes, thoughts, memories, and ideas could be captured in a moment, and then arranged over time - notebooks that would support and inspire you on your journey through life.
Review @WilliamHannahUK Whiskey & Kingfisher Leather Notebook (31)


Materials: Italian Leather & Suede
Metal Rings & Spine
Colorway: Whisker & Kingfisher
Paper Weight: 100 gsm
Price: £95.00
Where To Buy: William Hannah
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I selected a color combination that was already made, so I did not have to pick the colors of my cover, lining, or thread. All of that was ready to go. I was able to select my paper refill. The ordering process is really easy and it makes sense. The notebook was here in less than a week!


William Hannah offers classy presentation. The notebook arrived in a textured black box, with the WH logo on the front. The box opens to one side, and the notebook is wrapped neatly in tissue paper, though not excessively - just one sheet. Here I am, unboxing it for the first time. I tried to be sane about it, but I had to edit it to remove the heavy petting/sniffing session.

Underneath this, there is a white envelope that contains a postcard from WH about writing, some extra, hole-punched pages, a few to-do lists, a few weekly plan sheets, and a calendar. For notebook newbies or for some creative prompts, there is also a list of ten things to do with your new notebook. My favorites are:
  • begin a daily "write anything" journal
  • write a short story
  • doodle
  • plan your day
  • create a quote library
This is pretty simple, useful packaging to me. You can reuse your box, or use it to store this (or other) notebooks in it. 

Review @WilliamHannahUK Whiskey & Kingfisher Leather Notebook (24)
This notebook is the Whisker & Kingfisher color combination. The outside is a whiskey color - a rich, medium brown that has a lot of orange in it. I love it! I was also tempted by the Bordeaux x Pink but couldn't pass up the Whiskey, as it is one of my favorite colors of leather. The edges are slightly rounded off, and the thread is whiskey-colored to match.There is a metal, brushed steel pin emblem on the top of the cover with the WH logo on it. The spine has double-stitched spots, where the rots inside are tucked in. The back is branded with William Hannah England. I like the fairly minimal branding, and the elegant manner with which the notebook is presented. The suede inside is consistent in texture and appearance. The color is beautiful - the Kingfisher is a bright, intense blue that really makes me think of a Kingfisher bird (possibly one of the most beautiful birds ever!). 
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The ring system is attached in the center. There is a thin metal rod that is tucked into the spine very snugly. There are eight, small, round steel discs. The top disc is engraved with my notebook's unique number - A390. The threading inside runs around the edges, and it is blue, matching the Kingfisher suede inside. 
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Review @WilliamHannahUK Whiskey & Kingfisher Leather Notebook (26)
Overall, the notebook looks supple. It isn't a stiff, firm leather notebook, so it sits on a desk loosely and casually. This is a beautiful journal. I love the warm whiskey colored leather, and I love the contrast between the whiskey and the intense, vivid kingfisher blue inside. 
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Upon arrival, the leather was pristine and a little matte - no nicks, no scuffs, nothing. It was just waiting to be used! It doesn't pull up much, but it picks up scuffs and marks quite easily, turning your journal into a unique piece that is truly your own. That's the joy of leather products, right?


How does this notebook feel in hand? Delicious. I should also mention how good it smells - real leather! It smells so good. I love to hold it, smell it, pet it. Seriously. The notebook is supple in hand, as it appears. The leather is not stiff, and it isn't so thick that it has a rigid structure. I like leather that is kind of flexible like this, especially for larger notebooks - essentially anything over pocket size. The leather is fairly smooth to the touch. The flexible cover flips back easily, and the suede inside is super soft to pet. Yeah. PET.
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The notebook is pretty robust and tough. The build is strong enough to handle being carried and used on a daily basis. My only complaint, although I love the supple aspect of it, is that the covers can flop back a little, exposing the edges of the pages. If the paper inside must be pristine, be aware of this. 

The rings inside are secure. The rod does not slide around, so the pages are safe from shifting. The discs wiggle slightly on the rod itself, but they don't make any noise. The wiggle is useful for the malleability of the cover, and for flipping the pages. As it was set up, there are not too many pages. The notebook holds 60 pages comfortably, but can go up to 70 75, although the smooth page-turning experience becomes a bit bumpy. With 60 pages, it's enough to work with, but easy to flip pages back and forth, even if you move several pages at a time. To remove and insert pages, the paper must be pulled off from top to bottom, not out to the side. The same goes for adding pages, a few at a time.
Paper performance? The ruling is printed on the pages using a laser jet printer, so there are several colors of ruling you can choose from. I tried all the rulings: blank, grid, lined, and dotted. The paper is not particularly smooth, nor it is all that toothy. I like how it looks and feels.

Pencils work well - no issues with them. As usual, I prefer softer leads than harder ones. They feel nicer to write with, and the lead is darker and more legible than HB leads. I like that smooth glide that soft leads offer. I play around with Palomino Blackwing Classic pencils the most. They smudge nicely, and as so fun to draw, doodle, and sketch with. Pencils are a go!
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Review @WilliamHannahUK Whiskey & Kingfisher Leather Notebook (17)
Ballpoints and gel pens work well - no bleed through, minimal show through, and no feathering. Fineliners and rollerballs work as well - the only thing I did not like using was the Lamy Tipo and Lamy balloon rollerballs. Ink coverage was poor, but I think that's more of an issue with the pen than the paper, because everything else worked, and I've had this issue with these pens before. Brush pens were fun, and the inks dried fast. No feathering or bleed through, but the wetter ones worked best because they offered the best, smoothest, most complete ink coverage. Markers bled through, but all others only gave a little show through.
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For ink coverage over the rulings, I found ballpoints, pencils, Sakura Gelly Rollers, and Copics covered the printed ruling easily. Only the brush pen ink (pigmented) did not cover the dots/grids. If you go over the ruling again, they usually can be covered.

Fountain pens were really well-tolerated. I tested a lot of inks and nibs, not just the ones pictured here, and none of the nibs and inks I tested feathered. There are plenty more examples on my Instagram feed. Unless you blob several drops on the page in the same spot, and score the page a bit, the paper holds up really well. Inks shade quite well and the paper is great to write on. No feathering, minimal show through, no bleed through. Fantastic. It's not extra smooth and crinkly like Tomoe River, so it may not make your loins tingle, but it's solid, dependable paper that's way more fun to use than copy paper or a Moleskine.
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Ink sheens are visible, and it shows up best with wet writers. Particles, like in the J. Herbin anniversary inks and Diamine Shimmertastic inks, show up easily. Great shading - the white paper shows the true color of inks being used.
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The super saturated swabs I did to check for sheen and shading didn't even bleed through, except for one spot where I actually cut the paper. This paper is quite bleed through and show through resistant. With a lot of wet ink application, the paper may warp a little when dry, as can be seen in the second picture below, but it's still usable.
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Review @WilliamHannahUK Whiskey & Kingfisher Leather Notebook (10)
Drying times are a bit longer than on regular copy paper. Of course, it depends on the nib and ink used, but drying times are ~30 seconds to 60 seconds. Or longer, if it's an extremely wet writer. Long drying times is not uncommon with fountain pen friendly paper, and it's totally worth it.
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Flex nibs? Absolutely. I cannot stop myself from flexing all over this paper. Sheens show up well, inks shade, there is no feathering, no bleed through. I love it. And I love flex. It's perfect for me.
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I found the dot grid and graph ruling shows through inks more than the lined ruling. It's especially noticeable with darker inks on a lighter ruling color. My favorite ruling is the dot grid. I love being able to choose my ruling colors! You can color coordinate, organize, and match as you see fit.

  • Beautiful color combinations ready to go, or you can make your own.
  • Soft, supple leather.
  • Refillable with four types of rulings and with many ruling colors.
  • Rod is secure in spine - no wiggling.
  • Rod and discs are not heavy, so the notebook itself is not too heavy.
  • Paper turns smoothly on the discs.
  • Paper is easy to remove and insert.
  • A great system for organizing and reorganizing.
  • Leather develops beautiful patina with use - picks up scuffs and marks, and pulls up slightly.
  • Great paper
    • fountain pen friendly
    • no feathering
    • minimal show through
    • no bleed through
    • shows shading well, and some sheen
    • particles are easily seen
    • great for flex nibs and calligraphy practice
    • white paper shows true ink colors
  • No closure
  • Can only add/remove a few sheets at a time.
  • Proprietary paper.
  • Ruling print can show through ink (depends on the color/ink)
  • Not inexpensive.
  • Cannot be stuffed with paper too much, or the pages are hard to turn.
  • Not many accessories available, if you're an accessories person - ie. with the Hobonichi/Midori notebook systems

Stellar. I am thrilled to have been able to review a William Hannah notebook and the paper... oh man. This is a stellar combination. The notebooks are beautiful and it's going to be hard to pick just one. The Whisker & Kingfisher color combination is lovely - great contrast, vivid colors, well-made. I really like the discs - easy to move around your paper, reorganize, put things where you want it, add paper, etc.

I enjoy the supple leather, as it is softer in hand. It develops a lot of character as you use it, making it more and more special. Of course, this is a proprietary paper system, and I usually hate that. Fortunately, the paper is very enjoyable to use and it's fountain pen friendly. I really enjoy using this paper for flex writing and calligraphy practice. The notebook has been especially used for #tarquinswords over the last few months.

£95.00 is not inexpensive, but I've spent more on things I've barely used. A great gift for yourself, or for someone else. This is the kind of notebook that makes me excited to carry with me and write.

I received this item free of charge for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. Everything you've read here is my own opinion. 


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