William Hannah: paper tough enough for fountain pens?


Fountain pens are brutal on paper. Moleskines are among the first to fall, paper failing in some disgusting combination of feathering, shadowing, and bleeding through when subjected to the abuse of a fountain pen. When the William Hannah Limited fan page on Facebook led a status update with the following, I expected them to fail:

Ever since our notebooks came to the attention of the Fountain Pen community, the attractiveness of our incoming mail has increased significantly….

The gauntlet had been dropped. These guys thought their paper was good enough for my juicy pens and their destructive inks. I wanted to get my hands on some of their paper, if only to issue an I told you so. We had a few public facing comments back and forth in short order, and it wasn’t long before we had the good laugh of private messages being fired off to one another at the same time. They were suggesting I might like to try a paper sample. I was suggesting they send me a paper sample. Well that was easy!

Less than a week later, a package had reached my door in North Carolina from their offices in the UK. I pretty much immediately got to digging through it. What I saw next surprised me.

If you want lined paper, they will have a color that will coordinate with your ink. Probably. Most likely. I mean, they sent me one each of many different colors of lined paper: grey, navy, royal blue, kingfisher, orange, lime, petrol, violet, fuchsia, crimson. They have those colors available in 5mm dot grid and 5mm grid (aka graph). They also included some plain unlined paper. Not included were some other filler page types they offer, like week to page diaryto do list, and weekly planner.

The weight of the paper feels similar in weight and texture to my 90gsm A5 Clairefontaine Triomphe stationery. I could not immediately find specs for the paper. The Clairefontaine is great stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the upstream manufacturer for William Hannah. This holds promise!

Shut up and tell us if it works!

I set loose upon one of the test sheets with a few pens, giving extra attention to my very juicy TWSBI Vac 700 that has been upgraded with a Goulet broad steel nib. I loaded most of the pens with my own ink blend, which I’m calling Purple Nurple, Mk I. Just for giggles and extra sadism, I mounted a titanium Zebra Comic G nib onto one of my 99 cent Jinhao X450 pens. I loaded it with Noodler’s Lexington Gray, which I’ve found to be among the first inks to feather or bleed through a paper with any weaknesses.

The results will be given as a simple scan, front and back.

Front:

Back:

Closer look:

Bottom line?

This paper is good stuff! It’s punched out to work in William Hannah’s own notebooks, which are far from cheap. At current exchange rates, it looks like one notebook would cost a little over $130 in the US market, but the paper refills for it are in a much more reasonable ballpark: about $13 for a 100 sheet refill.

Does anybody know if these pages are notched in the right way for any other commonly available notebooks? That might be the hot ticket.

Disclosure: This paper sampler was sent to me for free (gratis) without any expectation or promise of anything other than a brutally honest opinion. I wasn’t otherwise compensated for this review.

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3 comments

  1. Firstly, thank you Magnus for your fair and honest review of our paper – we’re delighted that you think it is good stuff !

    To give a little more background, the paper is 100gsm. We are a bit protective of our source as I’m sure you’ll understand, but it is definitely not Clairefontaine, or any of the other brands that your readers will have come across.

    We appreciate that our notebooks may seem expensive at first glance, but this is solely down to the high quality of components we use, and the fact that they are made by skilled individuals here in the UK. The tactile Italian leather, engineered stainless steel rings and the paper itself are all the absolute best we could find – we refused to compromise on our vision by selecting cheaper components, which is why you can only buy the notebooks on our own website – there simply isn’t the profit margin to interest traditional retailers. Our notebooks are designed to last for many years, and develop their own story and appearance over time with the nicks and scratches that the leather takes on, and as you say, the paper refills are priced reasonably, so that you buy the cover once, and then enjoy it for a lifetime.

    Thank you again for your great review, and we would be delighted to answer any more questions from your readers !

  2. Yes, they fit the Atoma system BUT Atoma A5 is wider so it won’t work vice versa. However the leather is wonderful quality and it’s a sheer delight. It is worth EVERY penny.

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