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Moleskine Paper Meets Ink And It Ain’t Pretty

04/02/2013

When it comes to stylish, portable notebooks, it’s hard to top Moleskine. However, there is no doubt the paper does not work well with most fountain pens and inks. There are exceptions and that is part of the frustration of loving Moleskine. There is no predicting what will work and what won’t. The scans tell the tale.

Moleskine with fountain pen ink

Reverse side of Moleskine showing significant bleed-through.

Fountain pen ink on Moleskine paper

Reverse side of Moleskine paper showing bleed-through.

This particular Moleskine Reporter has been my testing site for several years and a few pen and ink duos work well enough in it. In fact, ink following along the occasional paper fiber doesn’t bother me. Even the Apica 6A10, my daily journal for many years, does that here and there. It’s the fuzzy outlines I don’t like. If a retailer wants to donate a more recently manufactured Reporter, I would be happy to test the latest paper. Otherwise, these results stand as the best I can produce in a Moleskine.

Not that your favorite pen and ink won’t be fab in these notebooks. Just be prepared to make adjustments, perhaps, going so far as to use something other than a fountain pen. In fact any writing instrument, save a chunky Sharpie or a fountain pen, will work just fine. Bleed-through might be an issue since the paper is very thin, but clear writing on one side is virtually assured.

Caveat emptor, fellow inkophiles.

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22 comments

  1. Goulet just started carrying the entire Leuchtturm line recently… they look similar to moleskines, but the paper is fp friendly unless you’re using a very wet pen, and the binding is also much better quality.

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    • Journaling Arts has a variety of Moleskine alternatives for fountain pens including Leuchtturm. Other online retailers carry fountain pen friendly journals so there is no reason to stick with Moleskine unless you have a pen and ink duo that suits it well like my Parker ’51’ Aero with J. Herbin Vert Empire. Or you like the convenience of walking in a brick and mortar to pick up your supplies. Ink may be hard to find but Moleskine is everywhere!

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  2. Love your blog. I recently discovered Monsieur notebooks. Similar sizes to Moleskine but their FP Journal (leather bound) is awesome – even using my TWSBI 580 which has to be the wettest FP I ever used.

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    • Thank you. :) Monsieur makes some handsome notebooks. Good to know the paper is fountain pen friendly. Are there inks that work better in the Monsieur than others?

      My more free-flowing nibs are not compatible with Moleskine but are happy with other journals. Eventually, I find a mate for everyone.

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      • I’m using Diamine Jet Black which is fine unless I write very slowly – my Lamy Safari with regular black cartridge was very good. My Parker Duofold with Quink (!) was also ok.

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  3. Moleskines are a triumph of marketing over substance. Try Rhodia’s Webnotebooks instead.

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  4. I’m not a fan of Moleskine’s unpredictability either, but the paper is surprisingly nice with graphite (particularly softer grades). Sketching with a 6B graphite stick in my current pocket reporter is a joy (although it’s usually a gamble to try to ink the sketch afterwards!)

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  5. I love Moleskine, and I like the idea of them, but aside from the fountain pen bleed-through and feathering that can occur, I have also found that every second page can sometimes feel ‘waxy’ as the fp nib attempts to lay down some ink. Granted, this occurred about three or four years ago with a three-pack of lined cahiers. I must point out that I don’t have this same problem when using the reporter’s notebook or the fantastic passport-sized pocket notebooks. Moleskines are great. Just not perfect. Which is probably a good thing when I think of all the useless and unimportant information that I actually write in them. Still, coupled with a Fisher ballpoint, it’s a great combination that I carry on a daily basis.

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    • Moleskines are great. Just not perfect. Which is probably a good thing when I think of all the useless and unimportant information that I actually write in them.

      Well said! To think what my poor daily journal must endure. No wonder the paper gets cranky at times.

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  6. Moleskine is not the same paper as was used by Ernest Hemingway (who is used in their advertising) I too found it unpredictable and have abandoned it for others. For general writing duties, here in the UK I use John Lewis writing pads, white usually with Diamine grey ink and ivory paper with Diamine saddle brown

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    • Your ink and paper selections must look attractive together. I will have to try Diamine Grey on ivory paper. Very nice indeed.

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  7. I agree that Moleskines are not very reliable with FPs. I love the Webbie and Exacompta, but they’re a bit pricey. TWSBI is working on their own notebooks, and they promise that the paper will be FP friendly. When TWSBI releases theirs, it’d be worth a try.

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  8. I have given up on Moleskines since a while. I liked them but the paper quality has become dreadful. No way you can write with a FP on Moleskines. I only still use their watercolor notebooks, that is, for watercolors! For writing I have switched to Paperblanks. They also look very nice and the paper is in a totally other league, much more FP-friendly. I use Herbin’s “Cacao du Brésil” ink, that I find looks nice on the slightly creamy color of the Paperblanks.

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  9. One of the best-constructed notebooks I ever bought was Moleskine’s plain A4 folio. But the paper was right there with the very worst. The only inks that behaved well on its porous pages, as they often do on iffy paper, were the iron galls. A great shame. These days I’ll use anything from the Clairfontaine/Rhodia stable, Oxford optik pads, or oddities such as Sainsbury’s Bamboo printer paper.

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    • David, another vote for the form but not the paper? Frustrating to be sure.

      Thanks for reminding me that writing a post on iron gall ink and Moleskine has been on my Inkophile To Do list for far too long. Time to get that one completed.

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  10. Is that Asa Gao in a broad nib? Is the pen on the dry-side? I ask because I love that color, but I remember it bleeding a bit too much for me when I last tried it.

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    • Yes, Iroshizuku asa-gao is in a broad nib, the Platinum #3776 Century Chartres Blue. Rhe pen is of Japanese manufacture so it isn’t as broad or free-flowing as most Western pens. However, the duo does perform well in my daily journal and surprisingly well on Moleskine. Too much bleed-through on the latter but that’s Moleskine for you.

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  11. I love the size of the Moleskine. It used to be large but now, with all of their various new sizes and shapes, I’m not sure anymore. The paper is an issue. I only use fountain pens and I concur with your assessment of the paper with fountain pens and inks!

    My favorite journal is the blank Quo Vadis Habana. I wish the size was just a tad smaller – but the paper sure is a dream!

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  12. What a pity Moleskine has such a problem with fp feathering; I´ve been using its Diary Planner for years, but bleed-through of my Pelikan is making me find Rhodia as an alternative for 2014…

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    • Rhodia products are an excellent replacement for Moleskine. I bought a Moleskine Volant today to evaluate the latest paper and it bleeds like crazy. Feathering is more pronounced with some inks than others. Meh. Who needs the trouble?

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  13. […] Most read post from 2013 – Moleskine Paper Meets Ink And It Ain’t Pretty […]

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    • For journaling it’s hard to beat an Epica. I like their hand cut pages. They offer Amalfi paper but it has a prominent texture–bumpy–and for some, not preferred with fountain pens.

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