Three C.R. Gibson Markings journals have been on a shelf waiting review for more than a year. To be sure they are attractive which could be the reason they never got properly filled. My used journals are destined for the recycle bin and Markings are just too nice for that fate. But since you guys like paper so much, putting them to the test made a good project for this month.
The first is a Markings sketchbook (MASA-2) with a Monet Waterlily Pond cover. It contains 130 pages lightly ruled on one side and blank on the reverse. The paper is 6.8″ x 8.9″ and held together with large double rings. Line spacing is 7.5 mm and pale blue so it doesn’t interfere with writing. The paper is soft white and has no tooth but does have a somewhat velvety texture. It’s a comfortable surface for fountain pen nibs and good with other writing instruments as well.
Ink did not show through or bleed through so double-sided use is assured. This is a very nice notebook I will enjoy filling.
The two bound Markings journals are the same style though sporting different covers, one leather (MJ5A-1) and the other embossed metallic (MJ5A-3). Each has 240 pages, a storage pocket, elastic band closure, ribbon marker and lays remarkably flat. Both journals look great and are well made for the price though the 6 mm line spacing might prove too narrow for wide nibs.
The paper color is slightly more yellow than Moleskine though the lines are identical in spacing and color. The weight is similar to Moleskine, but the paper seems to be lightly coated which causes fountain pen ink to suffer inconsistent coverage. Some inks feathered significantly and all of those tested bled through except Noodler’s Black. A Sharpie Pen in black performed well, so other writing instruments ought to get along fine with these journals.
These Markings journals are readily available, attractive and well-made, but unreliable for fountain pen use. Since the feathering and bleed-through are evidence of ink incompatibility, a narrow nib won’t improve performance enough to get a recommendation. However, the right ink will write well enough even with a o.7 mm nib.
What’s the takeaway from these pen tests? Don’t expect uniform paper performance from a manufacturer. Frustrating? You bet. Waste of money? Yep. Add to that the variability of ink performance and it’s hard to recommend any brand without reservation though there are exceptions.
Not for the first time this year only Noodler’s Black performed well. It’s reassuring that there is at least one pen on my desk that should write on most anything. However, it is not fun when my other pens are loaded with pretty inks that won’t work with the journal at hand. Better to stick with what has earned the approval of my inks and pens. That makes me more productive and my pens much happier. Go team!