history of papermaking

The History Of Papermaking Part II

Fourdrinier paper-making machine

Papermaking from the 18th to the 19th century


In an earlier blog, we looked at the development of paper from its origins, in 1st century China, when T’Sai Lun developed the first true paper from seeing how bees and wasps converted materials, such as leaves, into a paper like substance. From that start, the making of paper gradually swept westwards, through the Arab countries of the Middle East and north Africa and then, from the 11th century, Europe. For the next five hundred years, despite becoming increasingly refined, there was no change to the laborious, hand processes. Then, in the 19th century, two sudden and dramatic bursts of activity changed everything and not only was the making of paper revolutionised but the whole basis of the industry changed with the introduction of a new base material. In this blog we will look at these transformations, events which created the contemporary paper industry, and the paper we use, today.

The limits to production of a highly skilled hand process were not limited to paper, but whereas the processes of making products, such as cotton cloth, had become industrialised during the 18th century, by 1800, and with just one exception, paper was still made by hand, one sheet at a time, manually dipping a frame with a sieve into a vat of pulp, which was then drained and the resulting sheet of paper dried, usually hung over frames. This process was also restricted in that sheet size was limited by how large a sieve a man could handle.

Papermaking - The First Mechanisation

However, as the 18th century drew to its close, there were many in the paper industry who were looking at how industrialised methods might be applied to papermaking and at one mill in France, and despite the turmoil following the French Revolution, they had had some success. Nicholas-Louis Robert, who worked for the then famous Didiot papermaking company in Essonnes, just south of Paris, invented a machine which introduced the first aspects of mechanisation into papermaking. Robert’s machine, a replica of which is in the Frogmore Paper Mill Museum, and shown here, had a moving screen belt that would receive a continuous flow of stock and deliver an unbroken sheet of wet paper to a pair of squeeze rolls. This still had to be collected manually, hung over a series of cables or bars to dry and then had to be cut, but for the first time it introduced elements of mechanisation. Robert obtained a patent for this, in Paris on 9 September 1798, the original of the machine you see here being completed in the following year.

Nicholas-Louis Robert paper machine
A Replica Of Nicholas-Louis Robert's Paper Machine (circa 1799)

Papermaking Comes To Britain

Robert quarrelled with his employer over the further development of this machine. The patent had been registered in the name of St Leger Didiot, and he felt that with the then instability, and lack of the support, skills and finance for manufacturing ideas in France, it would be better to further develop the ideas in England. But the political situation in France meant he could not travel there. So, he invited his brother-in-law, John Gamble, who at that time was working in Paris on repatriating British nationals, to use his connections in England. Gamble had no papermaking experience but back in London, he was introduced to the brothers, Sealy and Henry Foudrinier, skilled Huguenot paper makers whose father, Paul, had migrated from Groningen in the Netherlands, and who agreed to finance the venture. Together they further developed the machine, and John Gamble was granted a patent in London in 1801.

This machine was more complex than the Robert machine and incorporated a full drying process but its practical application was hampered by technical difficulties. The Foudriniers brought in a skilled mechanic, Bryan Donkin, who worked on the problems and in 1807 Donkin registered the patent, in his name, for an improved ‘Foudrinier’ machine. This became the machine which transformed paper making and even today basic paper making machines are still often referred to as a ‘Foudrinier’. Although there have been many improvements over the two hundred years since the first Foudrinier was created, a lot of them significant, all paper making machines have remained essentially the same as the original Donkin-designed machine, which is shown in the box below.

The Foudrinier Paper Making Machine

The drawing below shows the four distinct operations of a Foudrinier paper making machine:

1 – The ‘Wet End’, or Forming Section, where the pulp, usually with between 5 and 10% solids, is filtered out from the water, as it moves along on a continuous wire mesh;

2 – The Wet Press Section, where the now formed fibre sheet is squeezed in large, felt covered rollers to remove most of the liquid;

3 – The Drying Section, where the pressed sheet is passed around heated rollers, completing the drying process and reducing the moisture content to somewhere close to 5%;

4 – The Calender Section, where the paper is smoothed by, again, being passed around rollers.

Foudrinier paper making machine
Workings of the Foudrinier paper making machine

The drawing shows all these processes clearly, though one point not covered in the description is the dandy roller, above the belt at the wet end. The dandy roller, invented in 1826, allowed for the impression of watermarks, literally just a thinning of the sheet at a chosen point, which had previously only been possible with hand-made papers. Why ‘dandy’? No one knows for sure!

The first of these improved machines was installed at Frogmore Mill at Apsley in Hertfordshire, today a working museum of paper making, and it was close by, also at Apsley, that John Dickinson installed one of the improved Donkin, though Dickinson-modified, machines in 1809. Dickinson went on to make further improvements, registering many significant patents in his name, but it was Donkin who became the central character in this first key phase of industrialisation, such that by 1851 there were some two hundred Donkin-made machines in operation throughout the world.

Donkin & Dickinson - Is Paper Mightier Than The Sword?

Bryan Donkin is one of the great engineering characters of the 19th century and it is surprising that he is not better known. Originally a land surveyor in his native Dorset, he became interested in paper and got himself apprenticed to a paper machinery manufacturer, John Hall, in Dartford, Kent.  He went on to set-up his own business, making moulds for papermakers, then in 1801 he was invited in by the Foudrinier Brothers and John Gamble to tackle the problems they were experiencing with the development of their machine. By the following year, he had established his own company in Bermondsey to exploit his developments, the Bryan Donkin Company, still in existence today but no longer in the paper business or in Bermondsey, and went on to become the pre-eminent engineer in the field.

But that was not all. Donkin went on to invent the tin can, which he patented, to work with Charles Babbage on perfecting the first differential machine, for combining calculations and printing, and with Thomas Telford and Marc Brunel, father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, on many of their great engineering achievements. He was the ‘go to man’ of the age when you hit an engineering problem.

He overshadowed John Dickinson, no mean inventor himself, who even before he became involved in developing and greatly refining paper machinery, had developed cartridge paper for shells – yes, the same as you might use for drawing today – which cut out the risk of smouldering after discharge, the cause of many accidents, and improved the firing rate of guns, a factor which greatly contributed to the victory over Napoleon at Waterloo. So, it wasn’t won on the playing fields of Eton, after all, and given that Wellington described it as “a damned near run thing”, perhaps paper made the difference. Is it paper that is mightier than the sword?

Papermaking Crosses To America

Developments were slower In the United States, where the first mechanised paper mill was opened in 1817, at Brandywine Creek in Delaware, and the first Foudrinier machine was imported in 1827. Doubtless, these developments meant that John Dickinson’s cartridge paper, see box on Donkin & Dickinson, was freely available to both sides in the later civil war, facilitating greatly a parity of mutual destruction!

This new process revolutionised the production of paper of all sorts, with costs tumbling by up to 75% but the very success created a new problem, a shortage of raw material. Rags of cotton and linen were still the major source, supplemented by ‘linters’, the short fibres around the cotton seed and too short for use in fabric. As demand grew, longer cotton fibres began to be used, creating shortages in the cotton fabric industry and pushing up prices, a scarcity exacerbated during the American Civil War. Although it was known that the cellulose structure of wood was similar to the raw materials then in use, no one had seriously studied taking this forward until, in 1845, an ocean apart and quite unknown to each other, though inspired by the same original tract, two inventors developed a process for converting wood bark into pulp for making paper – Charles Fenerty in Nova Scotia and Friedrich Gottlob Keller in Saxony.

Both Fenerty and Keller were influenced by an 18th century French scientist, René Antoine Ferchault de Réamur.  Réamur had made a study of insects, and from these he observed, as had T’sai Lun seventeen hundred years earlier, that wasps and bees made a paper like substance in a way which totally altered the structure of the raw material. He wrote a treatise on this, though, to his own regret, he never pursued his idea, writing in 1741, “I am ashamed not yet to have tried this experiment since it is more than twenty years since I have realised the importance of it and since I have announced it.” It was this treatise which a hundred years later was to have a direct bearing on the next transformative stage in paper making.

An 18th Century Polymath

Though the study of insects was Réamur’s principal interest, as a true polymath of the time, he also received a handsome reward from the state for his work on manufacturing iron and steel and invented the first temperature scale, the 0-80 Réamur Scale This was cast aside from most use during and after the French Revolution by the 0-100 Celsius Scale, but is still used in the manufacture of the most famous of parmesan cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggio and Gran Padano.

Paper Made From Trees

Charles Fenerty’s family were in the lumber business in Nova Scotia, felling and converting trees, but Charles was something of a romantic, he left some thirty-five poems for posterity, and presumably it was his detachment from the everyday business, whenever he could, which led him to read widely, including Réamur’s paper, and to experiment with wood as a basis for a paper pulp. Sadly, although he made some paper, he did not take out a patent and his ideas were stillborn.

Friedrich Keller achieved better success, mainly because he persevered despite a similar initial lack of interest. A weaver in the small town of Hainichin in Saxony, he was dissatisfied with his occupation and read and experimented widely, and it was through this that he came upon Réamur’s writings, working on developing this for seven years before producing an acceptable result. He sent samples to the government, though they were not interested, but then in August, 1845,  he filed a patent in the names of both himself and a local paper specialist, Heinrich Voelter, who had helped him, not least with funding. It was not until 1848 that they built their first machine and, even then, they had problems with commercially grinding the bark, a problem not solved until four years later when Voelter commissioned some grindstones suitable for the task. By this time, the patent had run out, but Keller was too poor to contribute his portion of the renewal fee, so Voelter bought him out, for a sum of around £80, becoming the sole patent holder. By 1852 ground-wood pulped paper was being produced regularly in the mill of H. Voelter & Sons, in Heidenheim, and the wood-grinding machine was a success, too, selling widely throughout Europe and the Americas. It made Voelter a very rich man but left Keller unemployed and penniless.

Chemical Pulping

Over the next decades, the development was both widespread and furious, especially in the United States and in Sweden, not least with the development of chemical pulping, invented in the US but first used commercially in a pulp mill in Sweden in 1867. Mechanical pulping leaves the lignin in the fibre, making for a weaker structure because it keeps the fibres apart. Chemical pulping dissolves the lignin, producing a stronger paper and later, thanks to the further improved Kraft process, paper with long chains of cellulose molecules which are stronger still, making excellent printing and writing papers.

The ability of the Kraft process to accept a wide variety of materials, including recycled material, meant that it became the dominant process by the middle of the twentieth century, though mechanically ground paper is still the principal component in newsprint today. There are now also many hybrid processes that allow for even greater variety of both base material and finished product.

Cotton and other such materials are still used in papermaking for specialised uses, such as bank notes and security papers, and other ingredients can be almost any fibrous substance, for example sisal grass, old clothes – denim paper is made from old denim trousers! – and even dried elephant droppings, since their digestive systems have already done much to break down the base material!

Many of the firms we see as the dominant players in the paper industry today were formed during the latter half of the nineteenth century, firms such as Wiggins Teape in England, now Arjo Wiggins, in 1850, Appleton Paper in the USA in 1853, Clairefontaine in France, in 1858, but these developments are for part three.

Where Did All The Money Go?

There is a sad side to this story; few of those early inventors went on to make much, if any, money from their vision and effort. The Didiot’s were left adrift in France and went bankrupt a few years later, having invested a great deal in trying to make their invention commercially viable; John Gamble faded from view with little recognition and no money from his work; the Foudrinier Brothers, having spent £60,000, received no royalties and went bankrupt in 1810, though Henry Foudrinier was granted a special award of £7,000 in 1841, by a House of Commons committee in compensation for the original patent. Charles Fenerty, as we saw, found little interest, see below for a reproduction of his rather sad letter to his local newspaper, and went on to write more poetry. Whilst Keller fell into poverty, in 1870 several German paper makers donated a small sum of money, which he used to buy a house, and later, from further collections abroad, enough for a worry-free retirement. He did, at least, receive several awards in recognition of his invention.

Messrs. English & Blackadar,

Enclosed is a small piece of PAPER, the result of an experiment I have made, in order to ascertain if that useful article might not be manufactured from WOOD. The result has proved that opinion to be correct, for- by the sample which I have sent you, Gentlemen- you will perceive the feasibility of it. The enclosed, which is as firm in its texture as white, and to all appearance as durable as the common wrapping paper made from hemp, cotton, or the ordinary materials of manufacture is ACTUALLY COMPOSED OF SPRUCE WOOD, reduced to a pulp, and subjected to the same treatment as paper is in course of being made, only with this exception, VIZ: my insufficient means of giving it the required pressure. I entertain an opinion that our common forest trees, either hard or soft wood, but more especially the fir, spruce, or poplar, on account of the fibrous quality of their wood, might easily be reduced by a chafing machine, and manufactured into paper of the finest kind. This opinion, Sirs, I think the experiment will justify, and leaving it to be prosecuted further by the scientific, or the curious.

I remain, Gentlemen, your obdt. servant,


The Acadian Recorder
Halifax, N.S.
Saturday, October 26, 1844

what is seyes paper?

Q&A: What Is Seyes Paper?

what is seyes paper?

A simple explanation of how this seemingly complicated French paper ruling system is meant to work


It is a question that many, if not most people, will ask when confronted by these strange rulings – what is seyes paper? In short, Seyes paper (also known as Grands Carreaux) is a very specialised paper ruling that is found in France. It forms an integral part of how French schoolchildren are taught to write, and yet to anyone not familiar with the Seyes format it can appear quite daunting. Hopefully this short article will explain all and also show how you can use the introductory books to ease someone into learning to use Seyes paper and gain consistency with their handwriting.


Seyes paper was originally created in the late nineteenth century by Jean-Alexandre Seyès, a librarian, and his system has been adopted and stuck, so much so that the paper ruling is named after him. I can’t say for certainty that every child going through the French education system learns to write using Seyes paper but it is extremely well known and, from personal experience of the system, it does produce consistent results.


So the obvious question is how do you use it? It’s like there is a hidden code and in a sense there is.

  • Seyes paper is made up of vertical and horizontal lines.
  • There is also a mix of bold and feint lines. Bold lines are every 8mm, feint lines every 2mm
  • Within the lines an 8mm grid is formed from the bold horizontal lines and the vertical lines
  • The pages will typically also have a margin in red

So to explain how these work, it is easier to ignore the vertical lines for the moment. Look at the horizontal lines. What you now have is a series of lines every 2mm – one bold then three feint, repeated. You treat the bold horizontal lines as your ‘writing’ line, the base line for your letters.

An explanation of Seyes paper rulings
An explanation of Seyes paper rulings

There are rules for which letters go where, and this is where the French system becomes harder to follow as they have a particular style of writing each letter, which I personally found quite hard. A simplified version of this might be as follows:

  • Upper case letters (A, B, C etc) start on the base line and go up to the third feint line;
  • Lower case letters (a, c, e etc) start on the base line, and go up to the first 2mm line;
  • Lower case letters with a vertical stem (b, d, f, h, k, l) are formed by taking the stem up to the third feint line;
  • Letters like an ‘i’ and ‘t’ go up to the second feint line;
  • Letters that drop below the line (g, j, p, q, y) sit on the base line and drop down two feint lines.
Example of using seyes rulings
Example of using seyes rulings

Introductory Seyes Books

We offer a range of notebooks and pads with Seyes rulings from Clairefontaine, the largest of French stationery manufacturers. Within their range they offer a set of six exercise books that help take someone through to the standard Seyes ruling. Learning to start writing on an 8mm grid with 2mm rulings would be almost impossible so these books are the perfect way to gradually introduce the various elements of Seyes paper in stages.

You can read more about how these books work by using our handy guide here.


Q&A: Paper Rulings Explained

paper rulings explained

What are the main types of paper?

You could spend all day covering every last detail of the different paper rulings that are available, but we have narrowed the choice down to five main paper styles. These are lined, plain, grid, dot and seyes. Many people will be familiar with the first two but maybe less so as the list goes on. The aim of this article is to summarise the main differences between the paper styles and hopefully better inform your choice.

paper rulings
The Big 5: Commonly found paper rulings

1 - Lined

Lined paper, also known as ruled, is the most common and also the most popular of all the choices of paper rulings. Lined paper is composed of regular horizontal rulings across the page.

What options are available? The most common choices you will find are the size of rulings  – that is the gap between the lines. Typically you will find this varies from 5mm – 8mm with 6mm being a fairly standard notebook ruling. It might seem a minor detail but the size will determine how much space you have to write in. Bigger handwriting needs bigger rulings.

You will also find that some lined paper has a margin – typically this will run vertically down the left-hand side of the page. This is useful if you annotate notes.

Advantages? Lined paper is the most popular of all paper styles and this is because it lends itself so well to writing neatly across the pages in lines.

Disadvantages? The page rulings are great for writing but can be an obstacle if you want to mix sketching and drawing in with your notes.

ruled paper
Ruled Paper (6mm)

2 - Plain

Plain paper is fairly self-explanatory – it is a blank page with no rulings at all. Often associated with drawing or sketching, plain notebooks are also suitable as an everyday notebook to write in. But beware as the lack of any rulings will make it harder to be consistently neat.

What options are available? There are not really any options with plain paper since by its very nature it is the most pared-back of all the paper styles.

Advantages? Plain paper is the most open of all paper styles and so it suits someone who is happy writing without any page structure at all. There is plenty of scope for drawing alongside your writing.

Disadvantages? The very same open style! Having no rulings or markings of any kind may not suit everybody as most people’s writing will drift messily across the page.

plain paper
Plain paper

3 - Grid

After lined and plain paper, you are moving into the world of more niche paper rulings. Grid, or graph, paper is still seen as a bit of an unusual style but it has been around for many years. It is also seen as a bit ‘continental’ since it is more popular in French and other European notebooks.

Quite simply, grid paper is made up of a series of regular horizontal and vertical lines, which intersect to create small squares.

What options are available? As with lined paper, the crucial difference is the size of the grid. Unlike with lined paper, there isn’t much choice here. You will find that almost all grid notebooks stick to a 5x5mm grid. Occasionally you may also find that grid paper has the option of a page-margin.

Advantages? Grid paper is the most structured of all paper styles and gives a fantastic framwork for writing and drawing, if that suits your way of working.

Disadvantages? The disadvantage of grid paper is that with so many lines, the page can become quite busy before you even start writing.

grid paper
Grid paper (5x5mm)

4 - Dot

Now this is where paper rulings become very modern. Dot paper, also known as dot-grid, is something of a more recent arrival to these shores and often confuses people. It is actually very straightforward and is proving extremely popular as it is a great all-rounder.

The dots come from the fact that at the intersection of where horizontal and vertical lines would be there is a small dot. There are no lines, just the dots at regular intervals. What it means is that dot paper has a grid-like structure but without the lines.

What options are available? There is little in the way of choice here – typically you will find that dot paper works off a 5x5mm grid, with the dots spaced 5mm apart horizontally and vertically.

Advantages? Dot paper has the advantage that the dots form a structure to write with but are feint enough. This means you can sketch and draw without the page structure getting in the way. Many people find that dot paper combines the best of lined, grid and plain paper.

Disadvantages? The disadvantage of dot paper is that it is neither one thing nor another – not structured enough to be lined or grid and yet too ‘dotty’ to be useful as plain paper.

Dot paper
Dot paper

5 - Seyes

Seyes paper (pronounced say-yez) is a uniquely French thing. In fact it is so specific that most people need not even consider it as an option but it is widely available on our website so we will cover it here.

Seyes has a very particular page layout of horizontal and vertical rulings, but in a seemingly irregular pattern. In fact it is a repeating series of narrow and wide rulings. The purpose of the paper is to help children learn to write. It is something that French children are very familiar with, hence the wide choice of Clairefontaine and Rhodia notebook with seyes paper.

What options are available? Because the paper is intended to be used for children of all ages, the rulings start very wide and progress to quite fine. There is a method to how the paper is used, and we will explain this in another post. However in summary it is about using the lines to form the different elements of letters.

Advantages? Er…not many. Seyes paper is something you specifically want and are looking for, in which the advantage is that it will be a unique layout designed for that purpose.

Disadvantages? The disadvantage is that if you are not familiar with seyes paper then it won’t be of much use since it is intended to serve a specific role in writing evenly.

seyes paper
Seyes paper (3mm Stage VI)
Incowrimo 2017 Letter

Incowrimo 2017 – Writing Letters – Part 2

Incowrimo 2017 Letter

International Correspondence Writing Month. One a day. Every day. February. That's the tag line that got me interested last year 🙂 Are you ready to take on the challenge and put pen to paper?

You can read the first part of our series on Incowrimo 2017 here.

What to write always seems to be the hardest thing about Incowrimo. The good news is that it’s actually easier than you think. Reconnect with people – find something you have in common. Write about something nice 🙂 Be kind, ask questions, or just one 🙂 Keep it light.

I always mention pen and ink combo and then decorate remaining space with doodles, ink splats, stamps, washi tape, stickers, etc.

Plan your incowrimo – it’s perfectly fine to start with few quick thank you notes, postcards, Valentine’s card and slowly build up to letters.

Incrowrimo 2017 postcard ideas

In this second part of our letter writing series, we will be looking at paper and filling those envelopes.

My recommendation for a more sophisticated writing experience are the Original Crown Mill sets. Each box comes with enough stationery to get you through a month of incowrimo, easy.  The laid paper in these sets are the reason why this feels luxurious. Ordinary copier paper is no match for the ribbed texture here which looks and feels more personal. That is the tone we want for Incowrimo 🙂

The Crown Mill comes in two different sets. The gold box comes with cream coloured materials. Silver box contains white paper and envelopes.

Incowrimo 2017 letter on a desk

When I talk about writing letters I have to mention Triomphe. It is a brand of pads and envelopes by Clairefontaine – famous for its glassy smooth 90gsm bright white paper. These pads have plain paper in them and come with a ruled cheat sheet which will magically help you write in neat, straight lines. Simply genius 🙂 Envelopes are lined with white paper and the seal is diamond shaped which makes them perfect contestants for wax seals. They certainly do look classy and are fantastic value for money.

We had these pads reviewed by the wonderful Azizah on her blog. Have a look – there are some fantastic photos which will inspire you 🙂 Perfect incowrimo cue.


My go-to is Rhodia R pad. Some may consider it as a budget option because it is just a pad. Don’t be fooled – it is gorgeous 90gsm buttery smooth ivory paper. We sell them in plain or lined paper. I pick lined over plain because when writing, I can anchor the letters to the lines and find it makes my handwriting look neater. Certain fountain pen inks ‘shine’ on ivory paper, others look great on bright white paper. My top 3 inks for ivory paper are KWZ Honey, Diamine Syrah and J Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre. Pages tear out easily, one by one, and it does look rather smart 🙂

Incowrimo 2017 letters with clips and washi tape

Last year we were part of Letters Live 2016 which was a spectacular event, defo check out www.letterslive.com for a spark of inspiration and get on incowrimo.org for further information.

Next week we’ll be helping you out with some ideas and creations we’ve been prepping for our own contribution to Incowrimo 2017 🙂 See you soon!

Incowrimo 2017 letters and ink
London Pen Show

KWZ Inks at London Pen Show 2016

London Pen Show

Hi folks,

It’s that time of the year again… First Sunday in October means two things: Marathon in my home town and the London Pen Show 😀
I went completely bonkers at my first visit two years back – had a great time, made lots of new friends and luckily my caddy was holding the wallet so I didn’t spend more than I wanted 😛

With help of few good friends Bureau Direct got two tables at The London Pen Show!


You probably know that my favourite ink  brand is KWZ because I brag about it a lot. Drumroll please – we have convinced KWZ Ink makers to come and introduce their brand. Shout out to Konrad & Agnieszka! They are bringing colour charts and a lot of inked pens, so everyone can try their liquid gold (I mean ‘honey’). We will bring some Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Tomoe River etc and of course KWZ Inks (please note that Bureau will not sell Iron Galls initially – I feel like we need to educate ourselves and others before we can sell IG. Spending some time with Konrad and learning everything from the master will be absolutely essential).

Okay, so now when I got that off my chest, lol let’s talk about what the show is like. Hopefully I will be able to convince people who live near by to go 🙂

Show is open from 10am till 4pm.

The address is:
Holiday Inn London – Bloomsbury
Coram Street, London WC1N 1HT

Tickets are £5.00 for 10:00am entry.
£15.00 for early bird 09:00am entry.

Expect lot of collectors and vintage pens. Do you want to see Nakaya or Parker 51 in real life? This is your chance. (make sure to stop by Visconti and check out Homo Sapiens – lava material feels incredible in hand. No photo or  video does this pen the justice…) Vendors will often let you dip&try the pens, so it is a very hands on experience and you can ‘talk pens’ all day 😉

If you do want to get some work done with your fountain pens – John Sorowka is your man. Please bear in mind that his table is always busy and you may need to queue. Trust me, it is worth it.

You will get a wristband, so it’s perfectly OK to go out for a coffee/lunch and come back 🙂 The show is very busy, so travel light and bring some water. Take pen and paper too.

Making a shopping list is always a good idea – browsing is fun, but treasure hunt takes it to another level:)

Bring cash – not everyone takes card payments.

Looking for spare parts? Bladders, nibs, jewels…this is the perfect place to find those – bring your pens and loupe.

You can also get ink, notebooks, pen cases, books, stands and accessories.

And finally – don’t be shy to say hi! 🙂

I can’t believe we are going, this is going to be so much fun 🙂

See you at the pen show!

Mishka (^_~)

ps: you can find us at tables 16-17 which on the left after the first turn


A New Member of the Bureau Clan

As a relatively new addition to the Bureau team and also a recent stationery addict, I wanted to make a quick post to introduce myself and also to talk a little bit about the stationery I have already fallen in love with. What seems to be a common tale with those that join Bureau Direct, I started to write with a fountain pen for the first time in years. I suspect it has something to do with the choice of a free pen and paper soon after starting here.

Without realising, I started with one of our most popular fountain pens, the Lamy Vista, but became one of the few to write entirely with green ink; I had to distinguish myself somehow. Since then I have amassed a small collection of notebooks, pens and pencils, but to keep things short here are my top 3 picks.


The Lamy Vista:

So good I already own two, the Vista is just a great pen all round: its affordable, stylish, comfortable and easy to use. I just loved that I could see my green ink sitting inside it. One of mine is currently filled with J Herbin’s anniversary Emerald of Chivor and being able to see the gold flecks still excites me.


The Rhodia:

Having started writing on a Clairefontaine ‘Age Bag’ pad and finding that my pen skipped for some reason, I decided to upgrade to this, the Rhodia paper that everyone kept mentioning. This is now my favourite notepad to write in, ever. Its simple design, easy to tear pages and cool retro look make it the perfect pad to write, draw or plan whatever comes to mind.


The Palomino:

A gift from the office these pencils seemed like the ultimate luxury, I just loved the story behind them and the design is amazing. These things write and draw beautifully and I think as soon as I finish my first one (which was on the house) I will have to buy myself an entire box.

The Palomino Blackwing 602

So I hope you’ll excuse a little gushing from me about some of my favourite new things. Look out for more blog posts than ever; from helpful guides and reviews to interesting stories and news, only on Stationery Wednesday.


Featured: Lamy Vista, Rhodia A5 dot pad, Palomino 602

Field Notes Expedition Edition


Holiday season is upon us, so I have picked a couple of paper companions. Each one has something special to offer. When travelling you probably want to pack something portable, durable, with pockets for tickets and accessories. Here are the top products that match that criteria:

Mark’s – Storage It in A5+ or A6+
First choice is very obvious. These Storage-It notebooks were made for travelling. Each has a pocket, which is great for carrying passport and phones. Mark’s range offers several inserts, sticky notes etc…
perfect companion Mark’s ticket sticky notes

Clairefontaine – Travel Book in A4 or A5
Interesting book. Vintage on the outside, black&white pages inside. The idea is that you will put your photos/trinkets on the black page and write on the white page. This is an absolute must for those that print their photos using free apps or carry pocket ‘polaroid’ printers.
perfect companion: MT tape and Stabilo metallic gel pen.

Moleskine – Voyageur 
Perfect travel journal. Contains index tabs, so your travels can be managed in style and mixture of papers.
Lovely touch with cloth cover, 3 bookmarks (part, present, future?) and ‘I am here arrow’ for photos. Moleskine won’t short you on cool accessories, these journals come packed with stickers, perforated pages (perfect for packing list, to do lists etc). Handy back pocket for all mementos or tickets.
perfect companion: Paperways mini sticky note set

Field Notes – Expedition
Save the best for last… All of the Field Notes notebooks like to be used and abused. It doesn’t need carrying pouch, would gladly live in your coat or jeans. I have picked it because of it’s pocket size, portability, hi-vis orange cover and dot paper. ‘Paper’ is water and tear resistant which makes it The ultimate notebook aka the survivor. I carry this one in my camera bag and it has all the settings, location, timings inside. Absolute essential 🙂
perfect companion: Fisher Space Pen

We have limited stocks of the Expedition edition, so if it sells out, why not try…

Field Notes Bundle
Get a pack of the classic Field Notes notebooks with a rubber-band pen loop and a Field Notes Clic Pen.


You know nothing John Snow

Handwriting course week 3

Everything I know is about to change….that’s why I have picked this title.

Just when I’m starting to get comfortable with all the drills, letters and connections we took a 180-degree turn.

Things are about to get ugly in order to get better. My tutor handed out the printouts of different writing styles and let people choose. I got just one piece of paper…with….s-p-e-n-c-e-r-i-a-n-s-t-y-l-e!!!!! 😮 (If you don’t know what Spencerian is I urge you, look it up!) Luckily, it was just a joke! She wasn’t messing around when I got second piece of paper with Angular Italic writing style – apparently that is the one I HAVE TO GO FOR. Why? Why? I honestly don’t know…perhaps so I can use my custom grind Lamy 2000 fountain pen? That is not the reason, but it’s what I keep telling myself 😉

I used to do something similar last summer in my Leuchtturm dot notebook – looking at these letters now I had no idea what I was doing 🙂 Here is an example of how not to connect letters…

my old notebooks, full of wrong letters 🙂

What happens next? No more 1-hour drills. Just warm up and start writing, every line counts. My goal is to think, breathe, write in Angular Italic. When I’m not writing, I am doing virtual flicks with my hand…Building awareness and consciousness just like muscle memory. Surprising, isn’t it? Everything I write down from now on has to be 100%. That is the hard part, to concentrate on every stroke. Writing sentences, seems so far away :))))))) perhaps in next life! So far I can do letters: l,i,t,u,y,n,m,h,b 🙂

If you follow my story, you know that I bought Seyes handwriting book. These are great when your writing is all over the place. Clairefontaine is fountain pen friendly paper of superb quality. Problem is, that you can’t just get one and start writing because they do not come with a guide. You are in for a surprise when you open the book, so many lines! So complicated! These lines are supposed to help you keep the size of your letters consistent. Here is what I have picked up on Instagram this week. A neat little “how to use French grid aka Seyes paper” :

platignum pen
Seyes – French grid

Lower case bodies go up to the first line
dt loops go up to the second line
Capitals and bfhkl loops go up to the third line
Hoops of fgjpqy (z) go down two lines

Best advice: my initial goal of slowing down has transformed into never rush any writing. I am also staying away from hoops and loops for now.

Shopping list: if you see a nice Italic letter S, please do let me know 😉

So many questions this week…Will I be able to use 1.1mm nib again? How will I implement this new style into everyday writing? I honestly cannot wait to see what the next lesson will bring.

Mishka (^_~)

Click here to read the next chapter of my Handwriting course


What’s new pussycat?

A quick run down on what you can expect to see this Month

We have several new product ranges due in this month, including some fab retro notebooks from Clairefontaine, the long overdue arrival of Field Notes, some cool inks from Herbin and some approved exam pens and pencils from Stabilo.

Clairefontaine books

Clairefontaine 1951 vintage

Clairefontaine 1951: These books celebrate 60 years of Clairefontaine (yes, yes, we know – so it’s 61 years now – we still love them and somehow we missed them last year!).

field notes

Field Notes: Really lovely range of simple, down to earth notebooks from across the pond.


J Herbin inks: We used to sell these pots of ink cartridges way, way back when the shop opened in 1995. They fell off our radar, but not for much longer!

stabilo exam

Stabilo exam: If you know anyone who will be taking exams this year then these exam-approved pencils from Stabilo (pens also available) are just the ticket.