NOTEBOOK REVIEW: ROLLO LONDON HARDY A 5 March 21, 2018
Rollo London was launched by Alex Fagan, the former Creative Director of Beauchamps of London, a luxury accessories brand. While there are dozens of Moleskine-clones out there, attempting to capitalize on what feels like a recent stationery renaissance, Rollo's notebook is a refreshing new entry that’s very different from anything I’ve reviewed lately. If you enjoyed the Field Notes “Ambition” edition from a few years back, with their old-school gilt edges and throwback aesthetic, you’ll want to check these out.
Here are the specs: The Rollo notebook contains 96 pages of 70 GSM Cream Paper, perforated and narrow-ruled, and features a faux scotch grain cover that feels very nice in the hand and not at all plasticky. Branding on the notebook is minimal, with “Rollo” subtly embossed on the back and a small gold stud/jewel in the shape of a dog embedded into the front of the cover. The latter is a nice touch, and adds charm to the notebook. This particular notebook is the “Hardy A5” in Hunter Green, with gilt edges on the pages.
A profile shot of how thin this notebook is, reminiscent of the Quo Vadis Habana. I found the whole package - including the belly band - nicely put together.
The paper has a nice texture, reminiscent of Baron Fig though not as thick. Performance-wise, it probably will work fine for the vast majority of users. I had no issues at all with fine and extra-fine fountain pen nibs using standard Montblanc and Lamy inks, but started to see spots of bleedthrough and some feathering with a wet medium and a wider-tip rollerball. I was actually pleasantly surprised with how well this paper handled ink, given that it’s fairly thin and absorbent. Also, the narrow ruling (which is a plus for me) will force you to write small in this notebook, so fine nibs and ultra-fine gel pens will be your best bet anyway. I appreciate that Rollo incorporated both perforated pages and a pre-printed index at the front. Both of these things are very practical additions (especially the perforations), and I wish more companies would follow suit.
What this doesn’t feel like is a mass-produced notebook designed to be churned out and sold by the dozen at the sub-$20 price point. On their blog, Rollo indicates that their “focus has been to bridge the gap between an affordable everyday journal and a high end collectors piece which you will treasure for a lifetime.” The Rollo notebook actually does feel like a luxury item, and, while you will pay a bit more for one of these notebooks, it’s closer to Smythson in feel while staying near Leuchtturm in price.
Fans of gilded edges (such as on the Field Notes Ambition edition) will love this notebook.
TAKEAWAYS AND WHERE TO BUY
I always enjoy reviewing new notebooks as they come to market (despite the fact that I have a more than lifetime supply myself), and the Rollo did not disappoint. To me, the big selling points here are the perforated pages, index, and narrow-ruled lines.
You can purchase Rollo Notebooks directly from the Rollo London website. There are both hardback and softback versions available, in A4, A5, and A6 sizes. Rollo also sells a variety of desk accessories such as desk mats, mouse pads, and coasters.
In terms of pricing, these notebooks are a bit on the expensive side, which I would expect given the attention to design and detail. The “Hardy A5” notebook pictured here, in Hunter Green with gilt edges, will run you £25.50, while the notebook sans-gilt runs £22. While that might be a little out of my typical price range for daily carry, this notebook would make an excellent journal, and an especially nice-looking gift. Embossing and personalization are available for an extra charge.
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