We’ve already covered the importance of pairing quality paper with your fountain pen in our blog post “Is Paper the Most Important Accessory for Your Fountain Pen?,” but now it’s time to help you navigate between Truphae’s favorite paper brands and choose the one that best suits your needs.
We’ve recently added a wide selection of notebooks to our inventory, and we’re excited to delve into what makes each product line unique in this all-inclusive guide to paper. Although we do carry a few items from other vendors, the four brands we’ll be exploring below are Rhodia, Clairefontaine, LAMY, and Tomoe River.
Flexibility in size options uniquely sets our Rhodia notepads apart from our other brands. In addition to A7-A4 skews ( pocket, standard, and large sizes), Rhodia notebooks are available in a long, thin No. 8, along with some other unusual sizes.
Rhodia also offers a decent assortment of color choices including orange, turquoise, and bright green. You can find dot, graph, blank, or lined paper in this brand, as well as both cream and white pages.
As for the weight of the paper, most Rhodia paper is 80gsm, with some premium paper weighing in at 90gsm. The easiest way to tell the difference is that most cream paper from Rhodia is the 90gsm, whereas most white paper is 80gsm.
Some notebooks include built-in bookmarks or are made with faux leather covers. However, all Rhodia products are branded, so if you’re looking for an unbranded notepad, this may not be the best choice for you.
Like Rhodia, Clairefontaine manufactures its notebooks in France. In fact, the brands are both owned by the same mother-company but choose to keep their product lines separate. Both Rhodia and Clairefontaine even have both spiral or bound paper options with perforated or non-perforated edges.
Clairefontaine products appeal to fountain pen users from an aesthetic and quality standpoint.
You can choose from classic solids or sophisticated, printed covers. Most of their paper is 90gsm, which is regarded as a slightly higher quality amongst many pen enthusiasts.
Plus, Clairefontaine notebooks are available in numerous sizes ranging from pocket to large; dotted pages are the only feature found in Rhodia’s products that are not present in this brand.
LAMY is already well respected as a quality fountain pen and ink manufacturer, but the brand has recently released a line of paper products as well.
The German-made notebook pages don’t force you to choose between lined, dotted, blank, or graph paper; instead, the brand’s notebooks come full of a multi-purpose pattern that allows you to do it all.
They currently only produce pocket (A6) and standard (A5) sizes - nothing so large as an A4, and there are no cream-colored page options. However, all LAMY notebooks come fitted with built-in bookmarks and elastic pen holders.
If you’re looking for Truphae’s highest recommendation, Tomoe River paper products get our vote.
While the previous three brands supply excellent notebooks that perform well with fountain pens, they are probably best for people looking to take notes or do quick sketches. Tomoe River premium paper is incredibly thin, yet it is brilliant for use with fountain pens in that their inks do not feather or bleed.
In fact, Tomoe River notebooks contain about twice as many pages as their competitors in other brands. The paperweight is just 52gsm, which in no way indicates this as a poor quality paper.
It instead shows just how thin the pages are. With paper so thin, the density must be very high in order to properly absorb the ink in the way that it does. We also think Tomoe River pages do the best job of showing the true colors of fountain pen inks, but its price tags are a little loftier than Rhodia, Clairefontaine, or LAMY’s.
This Japanese company does not offer spiral-bound notebooks or bright colors. Its covers are black and branded with its logo, but its pages are undoubtedly best for showing off specialty inks like those that sheen or come in boldly pigmented colors. The number of sheets is sure to make up for the price difference as well!
Regardless of which paper you choose, we hope it will augment your fountain pen experience and give you an excuse to be a little more expressive. Rhodia, Clairefontaine, LAMY, and Tomoe River all make quality notebooks, so there’s really no wrong choice.
Which product suits you best depends on a number of factors, but keep these things in mind as you browse our inventory. A paper’s “gsm” refers to its weight or density; however, a more dense paper is not necessarily better than a less dense one as a thin paper composed of strong fibers will still protect against bleeding and feathering.
Standard notebook sizes counter-intuitively start at A7 (a pocket-size) and grow to A4 (large) and beyond. For scale, one notebook will always be twice as large as the next size up, so an A6 pad would be the same size as two side-by-side A7 pads.
Lastly, while paper can influence drying time, other factors such as the ink you use or nib in your pen make it difficult to definitively say which notepad best prevents smudging.
We hope this guide helps you narrow your search for the perfect paper. To get a better grasp of the ins and outs of paper, please check out this informative video from our YouTube channel. Happy writing!