Gallery Leather kindly sent me two of their leather bound notebooks: the lime green cover is the Travel Journal ($20) and the black cover is the Oporto Journal ($20). Both books feature real leather covers and ribbon bookmark. These are clean, simple journals with rounded corners and speckled paper endpapers. Neither book has a back cover pocket or elastic band closure like some other notebooks we know.
Gallery Leather is a US company that binds all its books domestically. The paper blocks are printed overseas but all the leather working and binding is done in the US. Gallery Leather also offers personalized foil stamping on book covers for any order. See the “personalize” tab for more information. Gallery Leather also sells photo albums, address books and other high end leather and paper goods.
The Travel Journal features a pebble texture leather with the word “JOURNAL” blind debossed into the center of the cover. There are a bevvy of choices available for the covers: three different material finishes and a baker’s dozen worth of colors. Also stamped on the back cover at the bottom is the Gallery Leather logo and their location “Maine”. Inside this petite 5×7″ notebook are 192 heavyweight pages that are lightly lined in brown.
The cover of the Oporto Journal features a smooth leather cover with the word “JOURNAL” blind debossed in the center. Five other color options are available in the Oporto Journal : sand, red, verde, pink and orange. The books measures 8” x 5.5” and has 192 pages. The paper is white, ever-so-slightly on the soft white side with grey lines. The lines are very fine so they are not at all distracting — enough to keep my text even but no so heavy or dark as to interfere with legibility. The Oporto also features an ivory satin bookmark with fray-checked edges (always a big plus in my book).
Both journals feature a flexible leather cover. The leather is glued to a heavyweight paper endpapers giving the material a lot of flex. I bent the cover up with my hand to show how easy it is to flex while remaining sturdy and durable feeling. The book does open up pretty flat once I loosened the spine a bit.
In both books, on the last page of the text block (not the end papers) is a “Personal Data” page with lines to enter contact info. (Remind me to tell you the tale of Diane and her lost Moleskine that she did NOT put her name in as a cautionary tale.) This page also include the company info.
The lines in both books are about 6mm spacing, comparable to American collegiate ruled. Why the Oporto has grey lines and the Travel Journal has brown lines is anyone’s guess?
The paper in the Oporto Journal is smooth and easy to write on. I had no difficulties with any of the gel, rollerball or felt tip pens; pencils; or even brush pens, but the fountain pens did show some feathering. The medium European nib on the Karas Kustoms INK!, the Lamy Studio with the 1.1mm nib and the Pilot Kakuno with the fine nib showed the most evident feathering.
From the other side of the paper, evidence of the slight bleed through of both the Karas Kustoms and the Lamy are evident. None of the other inks showed through too much except in the darker or heavier colors but their was no bleed though except with the fountain pens. Even the brush pens had but a mere shadow on the reverse side of the paper.
The Travel Journal paper is notably heavier than the Oporto. Its also a smooth stock with only a little tooth. The heaver paper meant that all the tools I tested performed as well or better than on the Oporto paper. All the fountain pens were less inclined to feather. Only the Lamy Studio with the 1.1mm nib showed some slight feathering but that may have been as much a fault of that particular ink (I can’t remember what I was using, sorry!) as the pen or paper.
On the reverse of the the Travel Journal there was only the slightest bit of show through at the starts and stops of some of the fountain pen writing samples. Interestingly, the one blue ink dot clearly seen on the reverse is from the Ohto Dude. None of the brush pens showed through at all.
Between the heavier weight paper and how well most of the tools performed on this paper, I would definitely recommend the Gallery Leather Travel Journal to anyone looking for good paper and a quality leather cover at a good price.
The Oporto is a beautiful journal and I would definitely recommend it as well, particularly if you are not wanting to use fountain pens with it. Its a fine upgrade to a Moleskine which retails for $18.95. The extra $1.05 for a real leather cover and considerably improved paper is worth the upgrade.
Gallery Leather has been kind enough to offer two lucky readers the chance to win either the Oporto or Travel Journal. So, how do you enter to win this awesome giveaway? Just tell me which color cover and whether you prefer the Oporto Journal or the Travel Journal in the comments to be entered to win.
FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, March 3, 2014. US Residents only, please. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winners will be announced on Tuesday. Winners will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Fulfillment will be handled by Gallery Leather.