A few months ago I’d stumbled upon an old hard cover quad-ruled notebook that I’d misplaced way back in 2002. The notebook, with a sturdy pebbled exterior and smooth wire binding, impressed me anew, so I pressed it back into daily service. When I ran out of pages a few months later, I freaked out and spent half the day trying to remember where I’d originally gotten it. There were no manufacturer’s markings anywhere on the notebook, so I visited every store in the area that carried art, office, and architectural supplies. Nothing I found there was a match, either not being available in quad-rule (i.e. graph paper) or lacking the hardbound covers w/ spiral binding.
It was only when I took a day trip into Harvard Square to specifically visit Bob Slate Stationers did I rediscover my dream notebook. It’s the Cachet Classic Graph Sketch Book. I am going to have to stock up on them.
There are several features that I love about this notebook:
- It’s bigger than the average notebook, but not that much bigger at 9×12 inches. This gives the notebook a slightly more serious presence, and has the added advantage of neatly swallowing loose 8.5×11 pages. Usually, when you stuff a piece of loose-leaf letter into another notebook, some bit of it sticks out and gets frayed. Looks terrible. Go bigger to avoid this problem.
- It uses sturdy double-looped wire binding, which allows the notebook to either open flat on a table or fold-over neatly like a pad. This is incredibly useful. The wire binding is also large enough to snugly hold my Lamy Safari pen, which is very convenient. The wire binding is also unusually tidy…quality stuff. A lot of the other sketchbooks use wire binding that’s easily warped out of shape due to under-engineered wimpiness, which leads to snagging when rapidly deploying onto a coffee shop table.
- It’s a hardcover, and the cover stock they use is truly rigid. It’s similar to the stuff you see used for library thesis bindings, very sturdy and confidence-inspiring. If you are using the notebook with both covers folded in back, you have a very stable writing platform that doesn’t flex. The corners on my circa-2000 notebook have, with time, become worn, but the structural integrity of the notebook hasn’t been compromised. It actually just looks cooler.
- The paper stock is smooth and highly bleed-resistant. I’m using fountain pens (Lamy Al-Star and Safaris loaded either with cartridge or Noodler’s), and the wring action is smooth without being loose. Also, I haven’t noticed any significant bleeding of my writing to the other side of the page, which is a relief. Even the printing of the quadrille pleases me. The line quality consistent in tone and thickness, just present enough without being overbearing. It’s even in non-repro blue.
The only down side of this notebook is the price; I paid $25 for a single 80-page notebook in Harvard Square. The prices are probably inflated quite a bit, because I’ve seen prices online for the same notebook (now that I know what it is) for about $13 a pop. Still pretty pricey, but I’ve yet to come across another notebook that actually makes me happy. Not even my Moleskine reporter-style notebooks make me as happy, mostly because I don’t really like the tooth of the paper and it doesn’t take to fountain pens as well.
I was unable to find out much about the company that produces these sketch books, Cachet Products Incorporated of Fairfield, New Jersey. This is an astonishingly well-made sketch book that meets all my criteria for a daily process book, and I want to know how this has come to be.
UPDATE: I happened to spy a “Cachet by Daler-Rowney” Original Classic Sketchbook in my bedroom. Daler-Rowney is a UK company that is the result of a merger with George Rowney, Ltd and the Daler Board Company. Daler-Rowney also sells a 9×12 wirebound sketchbook. But who is the originator?