Somebody went nuts over the winter sale at Graphic Image, and that somebody was me. If you aren't familiar with Graphic Image, they're an American maker of leather journals, albums, and accessories -- the kind of thing you used to find in stationary stores (and still do, where they still exist). I bought one of their legal pad folders at Hampton Stationery when I was in Virginia last summer, and recently sprang for the 7" Wire-O-Notebook in mocha goatskin, which is roughly the size of my Cambridge Pitt Minion (see below).
Now that the sale is on, I keep going back for more. Brown and tan goatskin-covered journals make a nice companion to brown and tan goatskin-covered Bibles, after all. And the prices aren't bad at all. The journals pictured here ran between $39 and $14 each. Some have raised bands, others don't. Most have thick, lined pages. They're printed in Korea and bound in the USA. The paper meets the requirements for ANSI/NISO z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper), and (according to the legend in back): "All materials in this book meet established criteria for their preservation for several hundred years without significant deterioration under normal use and storage conditions."
To test the paper, I tried out several fountain pens, each loaded with a different ink: Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher, Noodler's La Reine Mauve, Noodler's Ottoman Azure, Montblanc Irish Green, and J. Herbin Rouge Hematite. I'm not an expert on feathering, etc., but the results were more than acceptable to me. The paper is nice and thick, with comfortably spaced lines and gilded edges.
There was no bleedthrough on the reverse of the page. The impression of the writing is only just visible. Since I like to write on both sides of the page, and prefer the versatility of fountain pen ink, this was a pleasant discovery. (The paper in the Wire-O notebook isn't as good. It doesn't bleed through, but the impression of the ink is plainly evident. I'm wondering whether a Smythson wire-bound refill would work in the Graphic Image cover.)
The goatskin bindings are very attractive. You can observe slight variations from volume to volume. The small tan goatskin journals were just $14 each, which seems a great value for what you get. The mocha goatskin is part of Graphic Image's Brights line, most of which is too bright for my taste. Apart from the brown, the only other Brights shade I find appealing is the green.
The pages edges are gilded, as I mentioned, and each of the hardbound books includes a thick ribbon marker. In the photo below, the items listed top from bottom are: 2012 Pocket Datebook, two small hardback journals in tan goatskin, the 7" Wire-O-Notebook in mocha goatskin, two 8" hardback journals in mocha and tan goatskin, and a 9" hardback journal in tan goatskin (which at $33 seems a steal).
I have a small green 3" x 5" softcover journal and a tan jotter on the way, too. Like I said, I went a little crazy. There are office supplies, desk accessories, and gadget cases, too, all at good prices. So if you're in the mood for a little goatskin, check the Graphic Image winter sale out.