Somewhere around the beginning of April I decided my notebook collection need an upgrade (this also led to the purchase of the Mulberry Traveller) as I had noticed that life in my bags/pockets was hard on pocket notebooks and that the covers started to give up way before I had finished the notebook.
So, I turned to Google and started to research my options; there were, in short, lots and as a rule very optimistically priced for example the eye watering £129.00 being asked for the Field Notes branded leather cover.
This just all seemed too crazy to me; whilst I appreciate good leather is not cheap and it takes time to make and finish a good product this should not be an excuse to charge inflated prices.
The research continued, and I started to look at options from Etsy sellers, and the range is big with some very nice covers being available for very reasonable prices. I decided to narrow my options by looking at customer feedback and I found Pilgrim Leathercraft owned and run by Tommy Morton.
Tommy was advertising an A6 cover which I liked the look of, so I decided to ask if he stocked one for pocket notebooks; whilst this was not in the range he said he would order some Field Notes notebooks and build one based on that. A short while later the prototype was in my hands and it is a precision-made cover; in fact, it is so accurately made that fitting a notebook straight out of the box was difficult. I wrote back to Tommy and explained I was having difficulties and I felt it need to be a fraction larger, approximately 2mm. Tommy made a replacement and I had it in less than a week and this time it was a perfect fit, I tested it with a few notebooks, from the collection, and each one went in perfectly.
The cover I ordered is chestnut brown (this was dyed to order) with matching stitching; it arrived securely wrapped in bubble wrap and tissue paper and as you can see from the external and internal images below it is well made and finished. One of the things that impressed me was that the cover had been folded to create a crease in the leather which ensures the notebook stays closed without the need for an elastic closure. I should point out that the covers can be ordered with an elastic closure and pen loop, it was my choice not to opt for either of these.
Another thing to note is the size of the internal panels which serve two functions; firstly, they give you a useful pocket for receipts, tickets et cetera and secondly it means you don’t get a bump in the middle of the page when you are writing and there is no possibility of your notebook falling out of its cover.
I’ve had the cover for a little while now and had a chance to see how good it is. I have quite a collection of different makes of pocket notebook and as I said earlier I’ve had a chance to test a few of them.
Now, it might seem a bit odd when you consider it but just because they all look the same size doesn’t mean they are; 1mm here or there doesn’t sound a lot but it is, just as the thickness of covers has to be considered, it all affects how the notebook fits into the cover.
I’ve tested Fabriano, Field Notes and Story Supply Co. so far and they all fit without any problems; I’ve also stuffed the pockets (front and back) with scraps of paper, receipts and so on and it worked really well especially as the Fabriano’s do not have a built in rear pocket.
Next, I decided to test the flexibility of the leather. To do this I tucked a fountain pen in the middle of the notebook and closed it and whilst it doesn’t close perfectly, as you would expect, it still partially closes without any assistance.
Assistance comes in the form of a Booksling Mini, which if you are not familiar with them are probably the best separate elastic notebook closure/pen loop you can buy, they are made by Everyday Innovations (http://www.everydayinnovations.com/) and I have been using them for years and, out of choice, I wouldn’t use anything else.
Anyway, pen in place, I got the Booksling Mini and wrapped it around the cover and it’s a perfect fit and after some gentle shaking and rotating I couldn’t free the fountain pen. More importantly, as you can see from the image, the leather has flexed nicely and there are no stress marks that you sometimes see on inferior products when you introduce additional bulk.
In conclusion, I’m very glad I decided to contact Tommy because I’ve ended up with a wonderful notebook cover that will last many years and will only get better as it ages. Tommy is a great guy to deal with and if you want something special made then you should definitely contact him.
Finally, would I recommend you spend your pennies on one of these covers? Absolutely.
It’s really is a wonderful product that will elevate your notebook from the everyday to something special.
Disclaimer: The cover was purchased with my own funds at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with manufacturer in any way.