From 1902 to 1908, Baltimorean Joe Gans was the World Lightweight Champion in boxing. He was the first African-American boxing champ (Canadian George Dixon was the first Black world title holder, 10 years prior to Gans) and a well-known student of the sport. In 1906, he fought Oscar "Battling" Nelson, the "Durable Dane" in Goldfield, Nevada, and beat him in 42 (!) rounds. With the purse from this winning, he opened the Goldfield Hotel in Baltimore, which featured one of the first integrated nightclubs in the country. Such was it's popularity and success, Jack Johnson, a much-celebrated African-American boxer in his own right, opened a similar concern in New York that would eventually become Harlem's infamous Cotton Club.
Joe Gans died in 1910 after a battle with tuberculosis. Much of his legacy is lost to the sands of time, including the Goldfield, which is now home to a US Postal Service building. He is also not as celebrated as Jack Johnson because Johnson was the Heavyweight champ and was more controversial outside the ring, allowing many people with even a passing knowledge of sports history to remember his name. It also doesn't hurt that Ken Burns did a documentary on Johnson and Miles Davis wrote an album about him. Gans hasn't gotten the same treatment, until now.
The Goldfield edition is Write Notepads' love letter to Gans and his illustrious hotel, and their small part in helping keep the legacy alive. This article on the preservation movement was brought to my attention on Twitter, and it references how Write Notepads owner Chris Rothe has been helping out for a long time (the article is from 2010, well before Write became a thing). Like many of the Write Notepads releases, this one oozes the "ornate minimalism" term I frequently use to describe their style. From theme to the execution, this edition is a solid home run...or, in this case, a knockout.
Let's start with the box. This thing is the nicest box they've ever made, and likely the nicest box I've ever seen on a $10 set of notebooks. It's black and UV spot printed with a pattern that references the time period and a silhouette of Gans. It's stamped with 24K gold foil. And for the first time, there is a little thumb notch near the bottom where the box opens. It's a little detail that makes it easier to open and you're less likely to tear the flap.
Inside each box is a card of Gans, with a picture of him on one side and a brief history on the other. The notebooks themselves feature the pattern in a spot varnish, minus the silhouette of Gans. They're printed with the same Goldfield frame that the box is in gold ink. The black covers are 80# stock, and the paper inside is 70#. The paper is more of an off-white ivory than the normal bright white they usually use. The ruling is their standard lined, meaning they use 2 left margin lines in a half-ledger style. But the color of the ruling is different. Usually they use a green that is fairly light, but this time around it's more like school paper: blue horizontal and pink vertical lines. The paper is just as friendly to most inky instruments as it has been in the past.
Subscribers and purchasers of the deluxe edition are also given 3 bridge pencils, Musgrave-made, black round bodies stamped with gold foil. These are really nice, and while my mitts are a tad big for the thinness of bridge pencils, they are gorgeous. And, much to my surprise, the erasers aren't total shit. That's usually a given when it comes to Musgrave, but not this time around. I was actually shocked. In addition to the pencils, you get a token, good for "One Free Drink" if you visit Write Notepads. And, from what I hear, they're serious. I'm not sure if a couple free beers is worth a trip to Baltimore from the Midwest, but for those who might be a bit closer, it could be fun. Just make sure you tell Johnny you're gonna be there.
Overall, I think this is one of the finest things Write Notepads released this year, and honestly, maybe one of my favorite of all the stationery releases. The combination of the theme and the actual design of the books is incredible. I was floored when I saw them, and then when I learned about the theme behind it, even more so. All of this for $10 is a STEAL. Write Notepads has the best bang-for-your-buck, consistently great releases going.