The Semikolon Grand Voyage notebook; a brief review.

With the London Autumn Pen Show just a week away, it is natural that my thoughts may turn to what I might buy there.

In London we are fortunate to have two pen shows a year. At the Spring show on 6 March 2022, my modest haul included a notebook from a brand that was new to me, called Semikolon. It was a chunky A5-ish size, offered in a selection of colours and for a tempting show price of £10.00.

Specifications.

  • 152 sheets (304 pages) of Swedish, fine laid watermarked, plain, cream-coloured paper;
  • Page size: 135mm x 180mm;
  • Stiff board covers, and cloth-bound;
  • Stitched spine – opens flat;
  • Two ribbon bookmarks (matching the cover);
  • Elastic closing loop;
  • Elastic pen loop with a Semikolon pencil;
  • Expandable pocket in the back cover;
  • World map with time zones, inside the front cover.
Semikolon Grand Voyage notebook.

I was informed that Semikolon is a sister brand of Leuchtturm, whose hardback A5 notebooks I have used a lot. However the cloth-bound notebook from Semikolon feels rather more luxurious in comparison and the paper feels heavier (although I have not found a reference to the weight in gsm).

How have I used mine?

Naturally, I began by paginating the book, in pencil. I sampled the paper by trying one of my purchases from the same pen show: an Esterbook Estie Nouveau Bleu with a broad nib filled with Waterman Serenity Blue. I also tried an Opus 88 demonstrator pen, in which I had installed a new Jowo-fit Titanium nib in an ebonite feed and housing, from the London pen show last year. This was (and still is) filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue ink. I would be keen to pick up another of these nibs, in a Bock fit housing next time to upgrade another steel nibbed pen.

Replacement Titanium fine nib with ebonite feed, installed in my Opus 88 demonstrator.

I was very pleased with the notebook. There was no bleed through from my fountain pens and also very little show through. I generally use a row guide sheet behind the paper, used from a pad of Basildon Bond writing paper. Flicking back through the pages, I see that I started with the paper-testing writing samples on the back pages and then just carried on with the pen and ink sampling, working from the back of the book all the way down to page 72 which is where I am now. The page numbers therefore tell you the number of pages remaining. This was not intentional, but illustrates that this is a notebook that I pick up often when just wanting to write a paragraph or two from whatever pen catches my eye in the pen cups. My tally of currently inked pens at home is at twenty (after flushing three this morning).

A few pen and ink samples in the Semikolon notebook.

I have also started filling the book from the front too, where I had the idea of inserting the date at the top and writing a page about the events of the day, using a different pen and ink each time. For example, on 2 June I wrote down some reflections on HM The Queen’s birthday parade – the Trooping of the Colour in Horseguards Parade, watched on TV. Little did I know that she was to pass away a little over three months later.

Admittedly I have filled far more pages with idle paragraphs of pen and ink sampling from the back, than I have with any meaningful writing from the front, but then it has been a source of recreation, reached for often when tired from the working day and in need of some pen-time escapism, writing simply for the joy of using a fountain pen on nice quality paper and seeing paragraphs of handwriting from different pens, nibs, and inks and in different writing styles.

A colourful paragraph from the currently inked pen cups.

The “Grand Voyage” theme is supported by the expandable pocket inside the back cover for tickets, post-cards or travel souvenirs, and by the world map in the front cover. I had not studied the map closely and it was literally only today, that I noticed the Semikolon Islands lying to south west of Australia! This is a notebook that does not take itself too seriously.

With a casual glance, you could easily miss the Semikolon Islands, and their punctilious inhabitants.

I am looking forward to next weekend’s pen show and would be happy to pick up another of these notebooks if the opportunity arises and in a different colour next time. How would you use yours?

Observe how these demonstrator pens cleverly adopt the colour of their surroundings.

11 thoughts on “The Semikolon Grand Voyage notebook; a brief review.

  1. That sounds like a good notebook and I enjoyed reading about how you’re using it – lots of working forwards from the back. I almost exclusively use bound books to write my daily journal and that’s how I expect I would use this if I purchased one. In my current journal I’m aiming to use just one ink colour (though variations within that colour) and I’ve just hit the point where I’m a little bored. Luckily that has occurred as I was emptying one pen so now I get to choose which pen and brown ink I’ll be continuing with. Perhaps my dad’s Parker 51 paired with Herbin Cacao du Bresil. I don’t think it’s a combination I;ve tried before. My Kaweco is also due its second fill and this time it won’t be the Caramel Brown, though that’s a lovely ink.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pamela. I think my intention was just to test the paper, with the back couple of pages, but this just sort of carried on.
      It’s a good idea to use nicely bound notebooks for writing that you want to keep, although I also waste a lot of paper just writing for the pleasure of trying different pens and inks. The luxurious paper in the Semikolon seems to encourage this.
      I liked your idea of using just brown inks in your current journal.

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  2. I am so glad there is someone else who has a note book simply for random ink tests ,odd thoughts and writing for relaxation. I use oxford optik note books for my rambley nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I too had never heard of Semikolon…until yesterday when, browsing around the stationery section of my local TK Maxx, I stumbled on a Semikolon A4 document box. The design and production values were just exquisite and, at £4.99, a bargain. At home I noticed that it had been made in China but designed by Semikolon, a German company. But sin of sins, on the wrapping they had spelt stationery with an ‘a’!
    I once asked the sales assistant at Rymans for a receipt, which he wrote out as ‘stationary’, despite the fact that he spent eight hours every day in a stationery shop! Or is it me being pedantic?
    That said Rupert, I shall be off to TK Maxx again on Monday to see if they have any Semikolon notebooks at a tempting price!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel your pain. I totally understand that some people struggle with the language and that there can be valid reasons for mistakes, but you’re right to expect that someone working in a particular business will gain the rudimentary knowledge of their chosen career.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Semikolon is Leuchtturm’s luxury brand, although the notebooks retail for roughly the same price (€20+). GSM should be 100, but just like with Leuchtturm performance can vary. Usually the notebooks made in Taiwan perform well whereas the ones made in China are often problematic for fountain pen users. The “grand voyage” notebooks are specifically made for travellers and are even more expensive (€30.-)and almost never on sale in Europe, so you got a really got deal on yours.

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    1. I have bought many of them, and other Semikolon notebooks (all fabulous with sumptuous paper and bindings as well) at Joseph Gibert on Blvd St-Michel in Paris. I think they still have them, but haven’t been recently.

      Liked by 1 person

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