Review & Giveaway of the Clairefontaine Large Vintage 1951 Notebook

The 1951 is a portable sized, staple-bound notebook with the snazzy vintage look of the original Clairefontaine notebook.  Last week, I received two of them from Exaclair.  I'm keeping one for myself and giving the other away to one of my readers.  Giveaway information is at the end of the page.

Size: 5.75 by 8.25 in/14,8 x 21 cm (also comes in a 3.5 x 5.5 in size)
Cover: textured cardboard
No. Pages: 48 sheets/96 pages
Paper: Clairefontaine
Paper weight: 90 gsm
Format: Lined
Binding: Stapled
Colors available: black, blue, green, pink, purple, red, turquoise

Look and feel:
The paper in the 1951 is satiny smooth.  The lines are a purplish-gray that guides the eye but won't compete with your writing.  

From photos I'd seen, I thought the 1951 was cloth-bound, so I was a little surprised to find the covers are cardboard.  The design is a classic hatched diamond pattern, with a cream-colored box that has plenty of room for labeling with names, dates or themes.

The binding is stapled.  You have to look closely to notice that because the notebook is squared off as though it were sewn.  You can easily fold it backwards, and the pages are securely fastened even towards the center of the book.

Clairefontaine is noted for being fountain pen friendly, and the 1951 is no exception.  The pen glides across the paper.  No ink bled through to the back when I tested it, and there was little show through. 
Drying time is slow, so lefties such as myself have to be extra careful not to smudge.

Fountain pen drawing
I decided to really lay down the fountain pen ink, and used my Preppy and Lamy Safari to color portions of a zentangle®-inspired piece.   I used a gray Fabrico marker pen for the shading and a Micron pen for the line work.

Do you see the ruled lines?  You probably do now, but had you noticed them before I asked?

This is the back of the page.  There was a little bleed-through where I really saturated the paper with the Diamine Chocolate Brown. I wouldn't hesitate to draw or write over it.

Water-soluble markers
I had started writing on a previous page, and then realized my pen was almost out of ink.  I decided to color over the writing with Distress markers.  These markers can be blended with water, but are fairly 'wet' even if you don't.   I've found the colors with these markers are quite different according to the paper used.  In the 1951, they are bright but not brilliant.  With the first layer of color, you do get overlapping lines.  These can be avoided by using circular motions, or by applying a second layer of color.

White gel pen was used for the highlights.  

Below, you can see that there was almost no show-through and only a few tiny points of bleed-through.

Gel Roller Ball pen

This was done while sitting while I was waiting for my mother at the dentist's.  I used Pentel Energel X Roller Ball pens.  I was holding two coats and two purses in my lap, while holding a baggie full of pens, and balancing the 1951 on top of the purses.  Proof that this notebook is light and flexible enough for on the go work in less than excellent conditions.  

The 1951 notebook is heavier and sturdier than it looks (to my eye, anyway).  I like the heft and feel of it, and find myself holding and flexing it absent-mindedly.  The motion makes a flapping noise when you do that, so my husband has given me the evil eye for doing it, lol!   Am I the only one who is drawn to a notebook because of the way it feels in hand?

The ink-drying time is a bit slow, and I'd recommend choosing a pen with quick drying ink if you intend to write quickly, as in taking notes.  

There is no drag or jittering as you write or draw, which means less work for the hand.  

The cover is elegant without flash, and would look equally at home in the office, on a school desk, or in the art room.


First off, an apology.  Due to the recent increase in postage rates, this giveaway is U.S. only.  I'm really sorry about that, but international postage costs more than the giveaway items!

I'm giving away one of the 1951 notebooks that I received from Exaclair, Inc.  I'm adding a Rhodia Uni-blank top-stapled sketchbook and a set of three Micron pens.

Giveaway starts midnight PDT 3/25/13 and end midnight PDT 4/1/13.  Winner will be announced on 4/2/13.
To enter, just leave a comment below, that includes a method of contact.

You can find a list of Clarefontaine Retailers at the Exaclair website.