Our Paper Quality

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Updated Information

Please Note: We have updated our standards since we last wrote about them 2011. Please see the blog posting Paperblanks® Craftsmanship Standards: Paper Quality Update for the most up-to-date information.

Paperblanks - Paper Quality

Our Craftsmanship Standards is a series of articles that take you behind the scenes of Paperblanks. Quality is the single most important part of the design process of our books. We attend to each detail and apply rigorous quality control checks to every component of our journals.

At Paperblanks, we understand that good quality paper makes journal writing a pleasurable experience. Our primary concern when selecting paper is that it is environmentally sound, that its opacity is consistently high and that its writing smoothness (how it handles ink) is exceptional. We use an ecologically-based pulp harvested from a sustainable lodge-pole pine forest from British Columbia, Canada. Our paper is acid-free and our binder boards are made with 100% recycled materials. Currently, we are in the process of gaining FSC* certification.

The Fountain Pen Tests

Due to the standard we set on craftsmanship, we decided in 2008 to change to a higher quality paper. Specifically, we wanted to improve upon how fountain pen ink takes to our paper. Working through an intensive round of fountain pen tests, we were able to provide an improved paper quality for this particular type of ink. Since then, we have used this new paper exclusively in our notebooks.

Smooth Finish

As book making is our passion, and the written word is very important to us, we ensure each component of our journals is of the highest quality. With our notebooks, you can expect a smooth writing finish with minimal bleed-through and feathering (what occurs when the ink spreads out on the page).

The finish of our paper is achieved by a type of processing called supercalendering. Through this process, our paper is pressed between rolls to create that additional smoothness our notebooks are known for.

Paper Opacity

Opacity is a property of paper that describes the amount of light transmitted through it. A paper’s opacity determines the extent to which printing on one side of the paper will be visible on the reverse side (called show-through), and is measured by percentage. Complete opacity is 100% and complete transparency is 0%. We work closely with each of our paper mills to create a specially formulated paper that ensures we achieve our high opacity and writing standards.

* Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC sets high standards that ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way. Mohawk grades that carry the FSC-certified designation meet the strict standards set forth by FSC. www.fscus.org.

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38 comments on “Our Paper Quality

  1. Good morning frm Germany,
    unfortunately the journals didn’t pass the “ink test” in my experience: I bought 2 journals with “Tibetan” design in 2011 – and both are just to be used with ball pens. I hope you can change this – because it’s too much money for such a disappointment.

    • Hi Barbara. We’re very sorry to hear this and we would like to address it.

      Can you tell us the batch numbers for these two books? The batch numbers are located at the bottom of the second-to-last pages in the books (see this image for an example: http://bit.ly/pO3weX). With these numbers we can determine whether there were any problems with the paper in the particular batches these books came from.

  2. Hi
    I just can tell about “Clouds”: it is Batch n. 0910203.
    The first pages were okay (and seem a little bit “rougher”?) … but then writing with fountain pen got impossible.
    It would be great if you find a solution! I love the Paperblank designs!
    Kind regards Barbara

    • Hi Barbara,

      We checked the paper for this journal and it turns out it was from an older (pre-2008) batch. We have since made improvements to the quality of our paper (as outlined in the above article).

      Hopefully any future journals that you purchase will not have this problem, but it’s hard to say because we don’t have control over how long some books are sitting in stores. One guarantee of quality is by purchasing books from our more recently-introduced collections (such as these: http://bit.ly/qfE86b and http://bit.ly/pJTh1m)

      – Paperblanks Team

      • Thanks a lot! I hope it is possible to purchase the new collection in Germany – I’ll be careful! Thank you for helping with this information! Kind regards
        Barbara

  3. Paperblanks Team,

    I am glad to find this site and post. I have been admiring Paperblanks journals for quite some time now. I have been relecutant to buy because I use a fountain pen about 90% of the time. I have found only one non-Paperblanks notebook to be fountain pen ink friendly.

    I’ll look into buying a Paperblanks journal introduced at least in 2011 or later?

    Dave

  4. i HAVE ONE BEGARHA

    terrible with fountain ink I bought it because has the legend “accepts ink nicely,but i am dissapointed to

    • Hi Gustavo. Thank you for your feedback and for sharing your experience. If you let us know the batch number for your book we’d be happy to look into this further. The batch number is located at the bottom of the second-to-last page in all of our books and is what we use to look up items for quality control. From this number, we can determine the specific paper stock that was used in the batch that produced your journal and get back to you with more information.
      -Paperblanks Team

  5. After having one paperblank that was perfekt for fountain pens, I got unlucky now with an edgar
    alan poe (1106402) which is horrible with fountain pens rending the notebook practically useless.

    • Dear Andreas,

      Thank you for your comment. We’re sorry to hear of your disappointment with your current journal and we would like to investigate further into this matter for you. Ensuring good quality is the most important part of the design process of our books and in 2008 we changed to a higher quality paper to improve how fountain pen ink takes to our paper. We will be contacting you by email to discuss this further and to help you with this issue.

      Kind regards

      The Paperblanks Team

  6. Hi! I was going to purchase a Paperblanks notebook, but I though I should look if they were fountain-pen-friendly, so I found this post. Since I haven’t bought it yet, I though I wouldn’t want a pre-2008 notebook, and I don’t know how long the products have been in the store, so, if I look at the batch number, how can I know if it’s made before 2008 or after?

    I would appreciate a prompt reply.
    All the best,
    Antonio.

    • Hi Antonio, thanks for getting in touch. We run an intensive round of fountain pen tests to provide the best paper quality for this type of ink, ensuring high quality is the most important part of our design process. The improved paper which we began using in 2008 is used in a large amount of our journals and exclusively in our new collections and books after 2008. If you’d like let us know the design that you liked in the store then we’ll try our best to find out more about the paper used in this book. Please email us at facebook@hartleyandmarks.com with more information and we’ll get back to your request as soon as possible.

  7. I have a Paperblanks notebook from around 2007 that was horrid with my fountain pens, so I had avoided the brand for a while, since I prefer to use fountain pens for journals. I had actually forgotten about the brand when I found a beautiful Paperblanks notebook, the Alphonse Mucha’s Autumn Maiden, and purchased it. When I got home I realized it had a striking resemblance to the old, ruined Paperblanks notebook I had still on my shelf, and discovered they were from the same company. I am relieved to hear that Paperblanks has updated it’s paper for fountain pens, but am reluctant to test the waters and risk ruining this beautiful little notebook. The batch number seems to be 119214.
    I am now slightly disconcerted by reading these conflicting reports of fountain pen appropriateness, and was wondering if there was any way to get a kind of reassurance.

    • Hi William,

      We’re glad you like the Autumn Maiden journal! Generally you can trust that our newer books and collections – like the Autumn Maiden book from the Mucha collection – take fountain pen ink very well. (Though it really does depend on the the pen nib and ink type.)

      We’re please to report, though, that we just tested a book from the same batch you reference above and the test results do meet the high standards we set for our books. No bleed- or show-through!

      However, if you do have any problems, please let us know by sending us an email to facebook@hartleyandmarks.com with more details about the pen and ink! 🙂

      Kinds regards,
      The Paperblanks Team

  8. Greetings from Nicaragua!

    I have sitting here with me my most beloved paperblanks journal (an Embellished Manuscripts Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “Wind, Sand and Stars” Ultra) and I can not do anything but thanking you guys and girls for making such a good job. I tend to write with a fountain pen, so I highly appreciate the changes you made for making the paper so much better. I was just wondering, by mere curiosity, how much does this paper weights? Thank you kindly, will be buying the Mini tomorrow! 🙂

    • Hi Guillermo,

      Thanks for writing us! To answer your question about the weight of our paper: We use several different paper weights in our journals that vary depending on the size of book or type of cover. In general, larger books use a heavier paper and smaller books use a lighter paper. However, this is not a firm rule as it also depends on the page count and some other considerations. To give just two examples, for the Embellished Ultras, we use 120gsm paper and for our Mini journals are usually 85gsm.

      We hope that answers your question! 🙂

      King regard,
      The Paperblanks Team

  9. Hello from Croatia,

    I was looking at your Michelangelo Ultra journal and was worrying about how much is it fountain pen friendly. The batch number on it is 124411. Can you check it for any known issues or problems?

    Best regards

    • Hello Petar,

      The improved paper is now used in the majority of our journals, and exclusively in our new collections and all other books produced after 2008. As the Michelangelo journal was designed in 2011, it should absolutely have the fountain pen-friendly paper you are looking for 🙂

      Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any further concerns, questions or comments.

      All the best,
      The Paperblanks Team

  10. I have had 3 different Paperblanks journals. One is fantastic with fountain pens, one does ok, and the third is absolutely awful. Paperblanks was nice enough to send me a new copy of the last one to make sure I was getting the latest paper, but it was absolutely awful too. So I guess the paper is just really inconsistent in it’s quality. Kind of frustrating. It’s hard to spend money on a product when you don’t know how it will turn out. In fairness, inconsistent paper quality is not all that uncommon in journals. However, after receiving an awful replacement directly from Paperblanks, I have had a hard time believing in this “extensive fountain pen testing.” Rollerballs were bleeding through that paper. Oh well.

  11. How will we know product production date before we buy? I am using fountain pen and I want to use it with paper blanks paper but I need to know which batch number I should buy.

  12. I bought Paperblanks Mozart Ultra and with fountain pen, it seems it has problems with fountain pens. ISBN: 978-1-55156-564-4. What is production year of my notebook?

  13. Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your feedback and questions regarding our paper. We are consistently striving to provide the best possible paper in our journals, dayplanners and address books. If you cannot find the information you are looking for online, please email us at facebook@hartleyandmarks.com.

    Best,
    The Paperblanks® Team

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  15. Hi,
    I’d love to buy a 10 year journal but I can’t seem to find any stockists in the UK, do you know anywhere that is stocking them?
    Also what is the paper weight used in the journals in GSM please?

    Thanks
    Tom

    • Hi Tom,

      Our new 10-Year Journals use paper that is 80gsm, similar to what we have in our Day-At-A-Time Ultra Dayplanners. These new items are designed with the gift-giving and holiday season in mind and should be available in stores closer toward the end of this year. We’ll make sure to give you a heads up here on the Endpaper Blog once they are officially released!

      All the best,
      The Paperblanks® Team

  16. Hi Paperblanks team!

    I just found this post, and I already sent you an email today as well, I was just wondering if your papers are FSC yet, and if you are chlorine and bleach free? If so, I think if you list this on the website it will be amazing for your customers. Don’t be shy with listing your achievements! It only makes you look more amazing!

    I was also wondering if you have considered including hemp, cotton, or post consumer recycled material in your paper productions? And do you work with green energy?

    As well as, how many of your journals are hand made?

    Thank you and thank you for the quality. I love my blue maya silver filigree ultra!

    And Happy Holidays!!!!!!

    Sharon

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  18. Dan on January 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm said:
    I have had 3 different Paperblanks journals. One is fantastic with fountain pens, one does ok, and the third is absolutely awful.

    Hello! As Dan, I own 3 paperblanks Journals. One from “The Book of Kells” collection; Ludaea in ultra format (batch number: 0910201) with a good, very smooth and fountain-pen friendly paper (at least with the pens and inks I use). The second is an Embossed journal in grand format from the Old Leather collection (batch number: 0911132) with a more textured paper ; no feathering, no bleed-through and no see-through. I tend to prefer this textured paper but it tends to absorb a bit some of my inks, but it’s not a big issue. And the third one is an Edgar Allan Poe (Poe, Tamerlane) in ultra format from the Embellished Manuscript collection (batch number: 0903401). The paper is also a bit textured, as the old leather one, but with the E.A.Poe one, the paper absorbs the ink (a bit like a blotting paper), and even if I don’t observe any bleed-through, I think this paper behavior could result in feathering with wetter fountain pens or broader nibs. Also, this phenomenon results in absolutely no shading with any of my inks, and the shading is what I think is wonderful with fountain pens. Consequently, I’m a bit disappointed with this Tamerlane journal, particularly considering the facts it’s has the cover I prefer among the 3 journals I own, and that in addition it was a gift from a very good friend. Is this journal from an “ancient” batch (pre-2008)? If I remember well, I received it in 2009 (december).

    An other question: I like heavy papers (100gsm or more). I fell in love with the “silver filigree blush pink ultra” journal. Before considering buying this journal, I would like to know: Is the paper in this journal 120gsm as in your Embellished ultra? Are these journals benefiting of the paper improvement you are talking about in this article?

    Thank you very much in advance for your answer, and sorry for the long post.

    • Hi Paninii,

      Thank you for your feedback and questions. Seeing the continued response on this old posting has shown there is good reason to update the information, so we have written an new post regarding our paper quality: http://blog.paperblanks.com/2015/05/paperblanks-craftsmanship-standards-paper-quality-update/. This will have all the updated information for anyone looking for it, as well as “go to” guidelines regarding our paper weights.

      As for your specific questions: Yes, the Blush Pink Ultra does use 120gsm just like the Embellished Ultras. The paper in our Handstitched journals is heavier than 120gsm (closer to 128gsm). Unfortunately the Book of Kells series is now discontinued, but the other covers in the line will have the same paper weight.

      It is important to note that there will be slight variances in every batch of paper, so not every batch will behave the exact same way, but our the approximate paper weights are fairly standardised. Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@hartleyandmarks.com with any other questions or concerns.

      All the best,
      The Paperblanks® Team

      • Hello!
        Thank you very much for your answer. Your new post about paper quality was very helpful! I will buy the wonderful Blush Pink Ultra!

        Thank you again.
        Best regards.

        • We are happy to help! Hope that you enjoy your new Blush Pink journal!

          Please do not hesitate to ask again if you have any more questions or concerns.

          Best,
          The Paperblanks® Team

          • I bought it, and it’s perfect! Such an amazing writing experience! Thank you so much for your advice!
            Have a nice day,
            Best regards,!

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