Staff Picks – Monsieur Notebooks

Kate’s Choice

Now…Seeing as we are putting so much effort into writing our Staff Picks, I feel that I should be totally honest with you all. As much as I have been converted by Bureau into a semi-professional stationery geek, I am not an aficionado in the true sense. Not in the way that Dominic and Jo are, anyhow. Some of our products completely grab me and I love it when that happens, but I don’t have what could be described as a real stationery addiction. I know if I was writing this about shoes (what can I say, they make my heart sing) then the resulting blog would be the Kate equivalent of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets…But sadly, I am not.

I also know that when Dominic hands me the company credit card, he’s always a bit reluctant to let go of it, probably because he secretly suspects if I could get away with it I would happily spend the lot on expensive high heels with red soles rather than boring toner cartridges.

So bearing all of this mind, my Staff Pick for today isn’t something that I use but rather something that I bought as a gift for my Dad- a Monsieur notebook. As I said in my last entry, I come from a family of artistic people and most of them seem perfectly happy now that every Christmas/Birthday/Thank You present is stationery based. Not that I am a thoughtless, last minute gift buyer you understand, but more that I have a wealth of lovely things to pick from here and can use my staff discount…Can you see where I am heading with this? More money to spend on my shoe collection (last count: 54 pairs).

We’ve been stocking the Monsieur notebooks here for a couple of years, in fact if memory serves correctly, I think this was the first book I bought. My Dad spends a lot of time sketching, taking measurements and drawing plans and he usually uses pencils rather than pens, so I gave him the plain paper version.

The Monsieur books are handmade in India so if you want to buy something that promotes fair wages and is ethically sound, well this is perfect. The first noticeable thing about the Monsieur book is the gorgeous real leather cover. They are made from a single piece of vegetable tanned leather so no two books are the same, and they have that authentic ‘battered suitcase’ look that anything made of leather should. You can really see the grain of the leather and the little inconsistencies where they have been dyed, and they are bound to get better looking with a bit of use. Rather than having rolled neat edges like most notebooks, they are left with the raw cut edges which of course is all part of their charm.

Handily, they have an elastic strap which although personally I think spoils the look slightly, I know most people who like their notebooks prefer this feature and it’s also got a ribbon page marker. They have also embossed their logo onto the back of the book, which you might not be fussed about but the little moustachioed face is quite cute if you ask me.

As to the inside of the book, there is a name and address plate on the inside page, written in French and styled in Art Nouveau which is a nice touch. The paper is 90gsm, an ivory shade and pretty good quality. Admittedly it’s not strictly designed for sketching, but it has a nice texture to it and does the job well anyway. It’s also billed as being fountain pen friendly, which is a fair description. Some wetter inks might show through on the other side of the paper, but generally there is only a little feathering and some slight bleed through.

All in all, my Dad couldn’t be happier with his Monsieur. It’s a really decent notebook to add to any collection, not as well known as the Moleskine or as smart as the Rhodia Webbie but if you are feeling in a bohemian frame of mind or want to pretend you are Indiana Jones….This should be your notebook of choice

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