Like many of you, I choose to write with a fountain pen.  I’ve used the same Pelikan Souveran for over ten years, and it still writes very well.  My pen uses a medium nib, which tends to cause a variety of issues on many kinds of paper.

Fountain pens use water-based liquid ink.  As you can imagine, water-based liquid ink behaves like water.  Proper notebooks for liquid ink can cost a fortune, and most cheap notebooks use inexpensive and substandard paper.  Low-quality paper tends to bleed and soak up too much ink, or smudge and cause a mess.

Lately, I’ve consolidated my daily note-taking activities to one $2 notebook.  This time around, I chose the Mead ‘FIVE STAR’ notebook, and it works very well.  Keep in mind, all fountain pen ink will behave differently in different pens, and with different writers – but so far, my combination works well.


In order to demonstrate the Mead notebook, I created a simple (very unscientific) test. It’s called, ‘The Bleed Test.’  I started off by cutting out a square of copy paper, then tore out a sheet from the Mead notebook.  Side by side I wrote, ‘Bleed Test,’ in my terrible cursive, followed by some shapes.  I did my best to mimic this process on both specimens.  Here was the result:


With the copy paper, the results were terrible.  When the ink dried, the width of the letters and lines was about 25% greater than when I began.  The ink behaved as one would expect water to behave on a piece of toilet paper.


The actual bleed-through was slightly less terrible, but noticeable nonetheless.  On the back of the copy paper, the ink left some stains.  Personally (I think many of you would agree) this sort of bleed-through would be distracting when writing on the back side, or trying to read the front afterwards.



and now for the Mead…

The FIVE STAR notebook fared quite well in the Bleed Test.  Just as before, I wrote out, “Bleed Test,” along with some shapes.  The notebook showed very little ‘spider-webbing’ (as I call it), and absorbed the ink quickly without smudging.  The width of the lines stayed consistent.


There was a small amount of ‘spider-webbing,’ but the $2 paper exceeded my expectations. Smudging was also minimal; five seconds later, there was no wet ink on the paper from my medium Pelikan nib.  The Mead notebook fared even better on the back, where no major bleed-through occurred.  This paper can certainly be used on both sides.




For reference, I put together a side-by-side comparison of the results.  This may seem a little excessive, but I’ve spent a lot of money on notebooks over the years, and it seemed worthwhile to show exactly why I finally chose this one for my daily scribbling.

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Hopefully you’ll find this helpful when looking for a new notebook.  I don’t think the bargain brand is ‘the same’ as the FIVE STAR in this case.  An extra buck here or there can save you a lot in the long run, and if you write with fountain pens, this notebook may be an excellent alternative to the 70-cent box book.  And, as an added bonus, this notebook is made in the United States.

Bonus points for Mead.

The Mead ‘FIVE STAR’ is an excellent inexpensive notebook for fountain pens.



2 thoughts on “Budget Fountain Pen Notebook

  1. We all seem to be looking for a cost effect fountain pen friendly paper. Copy doesn’t seem to work well unless you move up to the higher pound paper. I have found a paper that is very fountain pen friendly and is copy paper. I purchased it at Staples, if memory serves me correctly. It’s called “Sustainable Earth,” it is made of 95% sugar cane and sells for $8.00 a ream, also it is only 20lb. paper. Surprisingly this paper’s light weight one would think ‘no way.’ It doesn’t feather or bleed through. The particular store I went to didn’t have it in stock but does carry it. They ordered and delivered it to my house at no cost.


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