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New notebooks - Shinola and Baron Fig

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by Dave Johnson, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. Dave Johnson

    Dave Johnson Loaded Pockets

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    Has anyone out there tried the new journals by Shinola (made in the US, available in soft and hardcover in 3.75"x5.5", 5.25"x8.25" and 7"x9" format) and Baron Fig (hardcover, 5.4"x7.7")?

    Their prices seem reasonable. The Baron Fig notebooks are supposed to be fountain pen-friendly, but I haven't verified this myself.

    I'm just curious to know what they are like. Any alternatives to the ubiquitous Moleskine are interesting.
     
  2. John Lee Pettimore
    • In Omnia Paratus

    John Lee Pettimore Loaded Pockets

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    I ordered one so I could review it. That way I can tell you whether it is :censored: or Shinola.
     
  3. Dave Johnson

    Dave Johnson Loaded Pockets

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    OK, John. Since you've been good enough to take the initiative, I'll order the Baron Fig notebook and give it a test-drive. I'll post what I discover here. At this minute, I'm using an ecosystem notebook with a fountain pen and not loving it. Works OK with a dry pen like my Lamy Safari ex-fine, but not with a more 'normal' pen. Moleskine is marginally better. Leuchtturm is the best I've tried so far with fountain pens. Rhodia is supposed to be the best, but it's expensive. Hoping the Baron Fig or Shinola is at least as good as the Leuchtturm.
     
  4. atilano

    atilano Loaded Pockets

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    Subscribed. Looking forward to reading the reviews and seeing the pics!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  5. AK Adventurer

    AK Adventurer Ice, Ice, Tigre

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    Ditto, What he said! :cool:
     
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  6. SavageJak

    SavageJak Loaded Pockets

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    Tritto....or also ditto....double ditto? I don't know....but me too!! lol
     
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  7. Dave Johnson

    Dave Johnson Loaded Pockets

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    The Baron Fig notebook is on its way to me. Bought one with blank pages. If anyone else is thinking of getting one and is undecided about blank, dot grid or lined, perhaps get the lined or dot grid and let us know what you think. If I like the blank one, I'll go ahead and order the others eventually.

    I'm being forced to switch inks for use on the ecosystem notebook. Apart from the bleed-through and feathering with my current fountain pen ink (Private Reserve Tanzanite Fast Dry in a Platinum Preppy with medium nib), I think that these are decent notebooks and would work fine for anyone using a ballpoint (gel pens probably not so much). Haven't had any problems so far with the perforated pages coming out, and overall the notebook is well put together. I'll probably switch to one of the Noodler's inks and see how I fare. Otherwise, it's back to my ex-fine Lamy Safari, which has a Lamy cartridge (pretty 'dry' ink).
     
  8. John Lee Pettimore
    • In Omnia Paratus

    John Lee Pettimore Loaded Pockets

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    The Shinola arrived today. Apparently I can't tell the difference between the small and large because I ordered the small. It's very well presented. Nice thick packaging. Book wrapped in tissue with a black ribbon and a Shinola sticker holding the paper together. Inside the paper was the book encased in plastic and a thick 110lb-ish stock cover. 192 60lb pages.
    Initial writing test was with Mont Blanc 149 loaded with Diamine Ultra Green. It's the wettest pen in my collection. Smooth paper, no bleed through. Next test was with a Jinhao Dragon's Offspring loaded with Noodler's Lexington Gray. Again, no bleed through. Much nicer paper than the Moleskine I use daily at work. It is thicker than the Moleskine which makes sense with heavier paper.
    The only negative for me is that it only comes in ruled. I'm used to using grid or blank.

    I'm going to order the large and have Mrs. Pettimore shoot the unwrapping process and update the thread.
     
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  9. John Lee Pettimore
    • In Omnia Paratus

    John Lee Pettimore Loaded Pockets

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    Update: Well, I placed an order for a large journal and a leather zippered pouch. Wouldn't you know that about an hour later I opened the journal and the cover split right in the hinge where the spine hinges with the front cover.
    Emailed form to Shinola customer service asking for replacement or to cancel my subsequent order. Will advise what I learn.
     
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  10. John Lee Pettimore
    • In Omnia Paratus

    John Lee Pettimore Loaded Pockets

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    Update: Called Shinola customer support. The representative (Eric) I talked to was very professional and very apologetic. He checked with their journal team to make sure this was an isolated issue (of course it was). Shipping a replacement right away (my order from last night had already shipped). If any issues with either order they'll send a call tag and issue an immediate refund.

    They exceeded my expectations by doing exactly what I would have done if it had been my business.
     
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  11. John Lee Pettimore
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    John Lee Pettimore Loaded Pockets

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    Update: The saga continues. My second order with the large journal and their zippered leather pouch arrived today. Same great quality packaging/presentation. My apologies for the crappy iPhone photos (Mrs. Pettimore was busy at the time):
    [​IMG]

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    Continued in next post (not sure how many pics I can post in one)...
     
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  12. John Lee Pettimore
    • In Omnia Paratus

    John Lee Pettimore Loaded Pockets

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    Update continues:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Looks familiar here:
    [​IMG]
    Nice linen cover.

    Comparison with Moleskine w/blank pages (on top). Not as much of a difference in thickness as there was with the small journal.
    [​IMG]

    I opened the cover a few times and there were no issues with it splitting as in the first one. However, when I flipped through...
    [​IMG]

    Right in the middle a defect. I was so disappointed.
    [​IMG]

    Looks like another conversation with their customer service department is in order. Will update again after that conversation.
     
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  13. atilano

    atilano Loaded Pockets

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    While they look good, I would be reluctant to purchase from them. I would definitely let Shinola know that you are blogging this and there are several other members following the topic. Good luck. Clearly they have QC issues. Too bad as they look nice.



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  14. Dave Johnson

    Dave Johnson Loaded Pockets

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    Baron Fig 'Confidant' notebook review

    My Baron Fig 'Confidant' (I'm just going to call it a notebook) arrived the other day. (I'll leave it to you guys to visit their website to get the specs of these notebooks.) Came in a standard envelope lined with bubble-wrap. Inside was a shrink-wrapped box containing the notebook:

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    Opening the box...

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    All this fancy wrapping didn't stop the notebook from having a slight dent on the edge of the cover, but it's not enough for someone like me to worry about. The notebook is going to get dented anyway from me carrying it around.

    The linen cover is very nice (see if you can spot the dent):

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    The inside corners on the cover are not perfect, but I don't think that this is going to cause trouble and I don't sweat about this kind of thing:

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    I like the way that the notebook can be made to open completely flat:

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    This is how the pages are stitched into the notebook (something you don't see when you open notebooks made by other brands):

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    This is what you see when you open the notebook to the fly-leaf:

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    Size of the notebook is between a large Moleskine and a Leuchtturm:

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    The paper is very slightly textured. I expected this to result in feathering with my fountain pens, but it didn't happen. I had to use a loupe to see the very slight feathering. Certainly not enough to worry any reasonable person.

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    Bleed-through was nonexistent, but there was slight show-through:

    [​IMG]
    Baron Fig notebook pics by david.johnson.7374, on Flickr

    The fountain pen-friendliness of this notebook is superior to Moleskine. It is also superior to Leuchtturm, where I got bleed-through when using Noodler's Liberty's Elysium ink in a Platinum Preppy with a medium nib.

    I can't comment on the lined or dot-grid versions of this notebook. I will probably order them at some point in the future and update this thread.

    Here's what I liked about the Baron Fig 'Confidant':

    • Very fountain pen-friendly paper
    • Simple, clean design with minimal branding
    • Can open completely flat
    • Good price. I think that this notebook represents excellent value for money, given the quality of the paper
    Here's what I didn't like:
    • First and last pages are glued to the fly-leaf so you effectively can't use them... annoying
    • Made in China
    • Spine of notebook has ridges (internals of the binding poking through)
    • Place-holder ribbon looks like it will fray (need to look at cauterizing it)
    • No elastic band to hold it closed, a la Moleskine, Leuchtturm, Piccadilly, ecosystem, etc.
    • Cloth covering is probably going to get filthy, the way I carry my stuff around
    • Probably going to be difficult to put any kind of label or writing on the spine
    Only time will tell how this notebook stands up to daily use and carry.
     
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  15. Dave Johnson

    Dave Johnson Loaded Pockets

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    Oh, yeah... Number of pages:

    Baron Fig: 192 (minus the first and last)
    Leuchtturm: 249
    Moleskine: 240
     
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  16. John Lee Pettimore
    • In Omnia Paratus

    John Lee Pettimore Loaded Pockets

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    Update: Spoke with Shinola CSR this morning. They apologized again for the issues and assured me they were not normal. I've sent them copies of the pics as well as a link to this thread and they have committed to replacing both journals. The original replacement for the split cover'd small journal still hasn't arrived.
     
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  17. Dave Johnson

    Dave Johnson Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for keeping us up to date. I won't be ordering anything from these guys until your issues get resolved. I'd like to be able to compare their product to Baron Fig's, but I'm not keen to waste my time returning defective merchandise.
     
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  18. atilano

    atilano Loaded Pockets

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    ^THIS^


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. AK Adventurer

    AK Adventurer Ice, Ice, Tigre

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    Yeah, +1! Thanks for the great reviews and info JLP! :cool:
     
  20. NorthernHarrier

    NorthernHarrier Loaded Pockets

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    Very helpful reviews, thanks for sharing the info. Very interested in investigating the qualities and costs of notebooks that would represent a good value in comparison to certain other previously-existing brands that have been steadily increasing their suggested retail pricing in the last few years.