I want to thank Brenda at Word. Notebooks for providing this sample of The Standard Memorandum Notebook.
Jon Contino, designer who has Coca Cola, JC Penney and the Washington State Lottery among others as customers has teamed up with Word. Notebooks to bring us the Standard Memorandum Notebook. The way the story goes is that he was visiting his wife’s grandfather and he brought out some notebooks that belonged to his father. They were from the early to mid-1900’s. Jon was inspired by this piece of history to create his own rendition of the diary that I am reviewing today.
Well, I think a review needs something added. How about a pictorial comparison to the real thing? I happen to own a NOS (New Old Stock) John Walker Back Loop Diary from 1932. It was a very well-known notebook of the time, in Great Britain. Maybe it is not a totally fair comparison as the diaries that Jon Contino had to compare to were not of the same brand. I am allowing for that but the diary is of the same era so let’s take a closer look…
When you examine the notebooks it is readily apparent that the Back Loop Diary is of a higher quality. It is hard bound and has gilded edges. The thing that sets the Back Loop apart is going to be its namesake. The back loop holds a pencil firmly in place. The Standard Memorandum is bound in a heavy card stock similar to Field Notes and of course Word. Notebooks own covers. The Standard Memorandum does have an optional leather cover that can be purchased in tan, black or brown with free monogramming along with the notebook itself for $45. The cover is a simple design with a single flap to insert the notebooks back cover. It reminds me of a mini Midori Travelers Notebook just by looking at the pictures.
The paper, according to Brenda, is “Lynx Opaque Ultra Smooth White 60 #”. In my fountain pen tests, the 64 pages worth of this paper, did fairly well. There is very minor bleed when I use my 1.1 mm nibs. I was actually surprised that it performed the way it did. I was expecting a massacre. There is more feathering than bleed through. Not terribly bad but it is there. The paper has a little bit of tooth too.
You get one week to a page so when you open up the book, you are looking at two weeks at a time. The Back Loop presents you with one week per two pages. There are 4 lines of space per day. The occasional holiday will reduce that to about three usable lines. These are not quite 3/8″ in spacing (9 mm). The notebook itself measures 2.35” x 5.25”. This is not really meant as a planner. It is more for jotting down important things that happen to you throughout the day. Some might be able to use it as a planner especially if you use super-micro-thinner-than-a-hair Japanese gel pens.
When you open the notebook you have a ruler on the inside front cover with a reminder to “Measure twice, cut once.” The Back Loop has a nice green marbled look inside the cover. Moving on, The Standard Memorandum has a place for your vitals like name, address, phone, etc. This is present on the Back Loop. You also get an index on the Memorandum.
The back loop does provide a few things that the Memorandum does not. There are spots for a running cash account registry, moon phases, important phone numbers and dates. Oh, and life insurance! Yes, if you bought that notebook, you were also buying a £1000 life insurance policy as denoted by the certificate glued to the back cover. 🙂 Interesting. The Back Loop does lose on one category. It was made for only 6 months, not the full year.
Overall, I think the Memorandum distills the essence of the era’s notebooks and presents us with a usable representation of those Diaries that once were. It is good for jotting down a sentence that summarizes the day. In today’s world of twitter, 4 lines of micro text should be doable, no?
Thank you for reading,
The Fountain Pen Sith Lord
- The Standard Memorandum (coolmaterial.com)
- The Standard Memorandum (The Well Appointed Desk)
- Word Notebooks 2014 Standard Memorandum (Ink on Hand)
Related item: Word Notebook 3-Pack (Tan Camo) (Your purchase helps me maintain this blog)
The pictorial comparison: