This was a post that was on my list for over the break, but things got moved around a bit, and here we are mid-January. It's Sunday afternoon, and I've got a warm and furry beast beside me (Super), and Jon has gone out to pick up coffee, so it's kind of like a break. I had planned this post over the break because over November and December, I had special ordered some new G. Lalo stuff to try out, and with the holiday madness, I didn't have a chance to really get into it all. Sometimes there are people who are more interested in pens or inks or paper, over the other two. By coincidence, it seems like demographically we have more males into pens, and more females into inks & paper. While fountain pens & inks need each other, everyone with a ballpoint or pencil could use a notebook, so we get a lot of non-fountan pen users who like to browse the stationery. But that's just me rambling, based on casual observation, and I could be completely wrong. Personally, maybe because of my situation being exposed to new inks and pens and paper all the time, it's a bit hard to say. I kind of like all three. I have my favourite pens, which I love, and my favourite inks, which I also love, and then I have my favourite papers, which I also love. It's just love everywhere all the time. G. Lalo Verge de France is some of my favourite stuff - it's thick and textured and super for fountain pen ink, especially wet and flexy pens. Imagine my delight when I recently discovered that G. Lalo actually produces three other different types of premium or correspondence stationery! I know, what kind of stationery shop keeper am I?? I am not looking in the right catalogues. Three years in the biz...
I ordered a few packs of each of the paper types, and while I did some preliminary doodling, I've finally gotten around to a bit more of an organized comparison between the papers. All of these papers do very, very well with fountain pens, and I would recommend any of them, so all of the differences I'm noting are just comparisons between these four excellent papers. We would love to carry these papers, especially if there's some interest! They are all around the same price as the Verge de France
, which we already stock regularly. For all of the papers, I used - Pilot Falcon
Soft Fine with Noodler's Blue Upon the Plains of Abraham
- Vac Mini
Medium with Diamine Autumn Oak
- Pilot Custom 74 (coming to the website sooN!) Medium with J. Herbin Eclat de saphir
- Lamy 2000
Medium with Noodler's Army Green
All of these are fairly wet pens, and particularly the Lamy 2000 medium is nearing a broad. You'll recognize the Verge de France, which is fairly easy to find at your local stationery shop. 100gsm, pack of 50 sheets, available in Ivory or White (and a few other colours that we don't carry), and has 25% cotton content. This is the ivory in the photos. It has the distinctive markings of laid paper, which is how the paper is made - something to do with the screens and wires and the wet paper pulp is set on rectangular molds. The wire grid leaves the grooves you can see on the paper. This is the real old-timey stuff love letters and sonnets were written on. *sigh
I truly love this stuff. One of the first fights Jon and I had as co-business-runners was when he took over the shop, and found my secret stash of Verge de France packs, and I tried to convince him he couldn't sell them because I needed them all
. I can't remember who won, but it's all water under the bridge, since I have a new stash now. *I am not a hoarder, but it's important to not run out of the important stuff in life, like toilet paper or dog food or beautiful stationery. Admittedly, this paper is for those who like to feel the paper underneath, and you will definitely be able to feel the bumps. I also think this is really nice paper for the recipient, to feel the thickness and texture of the paper they're holding in their hand. I've written my share of letters on this paper. It is really, really good for fountain pen ink - as wet as you can get. This stuff is good for your Ahab, even with those sharp tines digging into the paper, or your flex nibs that lay down a ton of ink. The next paper is the Toile Imperiale - 100gsm, pack of 50 sheets, and a slightly off-whitish tone.
It also has a bit of texture to it, and also in a bit of a grid pattern, but different from the Verge de France. The bumps are a bit smaller and more even, so I would say it's smoother overall than the bigger bumps of the Verge de France, but you will still definitely feel some feedback. It is just ever so slightly
more absorbent than Verge de France. At this point, it's really like splitting hairs between these papers. When you compare the lines, you can see that the lines on the Verge de France are not as clean and even, partially due to the bumps which prevent the nib from making perfect contact the paper, and then exacerbated by the non-absorbency of the paper. The Toile Imperiale, on the other hand, gets very clean, crisp, even lines. You can see from the photos that you still get amazing shading, and very, very limited feathering, if at all. It's thick paper as well, but feels a bit coated, although its (very slight) absorbency makes it very easy to write not, not the slick and plastic-y type that can make it seem like your ink doesn't make contact with the paper. The next paper is the Velin de France - 100gsm, 50 sheets per pack, white. The smoothest of the bunch, and whitest.
This is the smoothest of the four papers, and also, I think worst performing by a very, very small margin. I feel like saying that it's the worst performing is a bit dramatic, since it's still very good with fountain pens, but it's the only one of the four papers which had even a hint of feathering or bleed through with the very wettest pens. I'm still very confident using this with the vast majority of my pens for writing letters. It is definitely the smoothest - very, very smooth, without being slick. Ink looks really great on it - the lines are clean and crisp and clear. The whiteness of the sheet (compared to the ivory or off-white) makes ink really pop, and I think ink might look the best on this paper. Even though the Velin de France is the same weight as the previous two, 100gsm, it feels a bit lighter, which could be my imagination, or how the paper moves more easily since it's not textured. This and the Pur coton are the only two of the four that come with a liner guide sheet to put underneath the sheet you're writing on, which might give you an indication of the thickness and opacity. And the last is the Velin pur coton, which only has 40 sheets per pack, but is 125 gsm, so it's the heaviest of the bunch. It also has the thickest cardboard backing of the four. It's an off-white colour, almost Ivory, although not quite. It is just slightly more textured than the Velin de France, so you can feel it just ever so slightly. When you're writing on it, you can just feel it under your nib - it's a slightly less textured paper than what you might expect in a sketchbook for artists, but of course great for fountain pen ink. It's kind of got that dreamy & creamy feel.
So, which is my new favourite?? UGH. I'm not sure. I think I will always like the Verge de France, because I just love the look and feel of this vintage style of paper, but I also really like the feel of the Pur Coton and Toile Imperiale. The writing experience on the Velin de France was great, and the ink looks the best on it. Although, the ink does go down nicely on the Toile Imperiale, which still gives a sense of toothiness when you're writing. Of course the Pur Coton is so rich and thick. Then again, I can get long winded in my letters, and I have had the experience of literally not being able to fold up my letter to fit in into an envelope... So for now, I think I'll need to write a bit more on each one before I choose any favourites. Which is great because I had to order these in minimum quantities in order to try them out, so you know, I have a bunch.
In other news, we had a long-time favourite customer get engaged in the shop! Long-time as in since our early days at 906 Dundas West, so when Jon got a crazy e-mail about this plan to get engaged in a pen shop, before I knew it, I was on the ladder trying to write "Zara, will you marry me?" on the chalkboard wall, while Caleb was down below, destroying things behind the counter.
We couldn't find our box of chalk, so I had to make do with some half-pieces I found under the shelf, and then after I finished the whole thing, Jon said, "Oh, by the way, I didn't mention this because it would be too hard, but they were hoping you could do something to kind of hide the words so she doesn't notice it when she first walks in...", and I only had maybe 4mm of chalk left in my hand. So basically it was a bit nuts, which is exactly as it should be when two people are getting engaged.
Caleb's hair continues to grow out slightly beyond old-man-hair, and I've been trimming it while he naps, so every once in a while he wakes up a new man. He's still on his diet of cheese, rice crackers and whatever random things he finds on the ground, which I'm sure is giving him enough nutrients to grow a really luscious mane one day. Super's eating all the vegetables and meat Caleb throws off his high chair, which is exactly why he is so furry.