I'm a Write Notepads fanboy. It's no secret. I like everything they do over there in Baltimore. I use their Graph Steno as my pencil testing book for all the Lead Fast reviews. I find it to be the perfect size for a mini review and the perfect paper to test pencils. It has just enough tooth, but doesn't sheer off pencil, like the Baron Fig paper, nor is it too smooth like the standard Finch opaque bright white that Field Notes uses. For me, it's the Goldilocks of paper...just right.
Some people aren't a fan of their pocket notebook offerings because of the binding (it's either Perfect bound or PUR bound, they just say "glue-bound" in their marketing materials). I like the binding, though it does need some breaking in. You just have to be the OPPOSITE of careful with these books. Beat them up, work the spine, crack it. I've used quite a few of their pocket notebooks and I've yet to lose a page...hell, I've even folded them back on themselves, which is always a strike against glue bound books when detractors are coming up with reasons they won't use them.
No one can argue that they don't make a beautiful special edition. The Chesapeake is no different. This is a wonderful book, and like I said in my Telegraph review, they have a knack for being ornate and minimal at the same time. The Chesapeake is no different. However, we aren't given a slice of Baltimore history in the form of an old dude or retired rail car this time, but instead a love letter to a region, the Chesapeake Bay region, of which Write Notepads' hometown of Baltimore is a part. The Chesapeake was a huge part of the region's economy, especially the blue crab, oyster, and fishing industries, but as the region grew in population, so it grew in pollution, and the seafood industry suffered because of it. Efforts to clean up and revitalize the Bay are underway, with mixed results.
The covers of this edition are a deep blue, reminiscent of the deep blue waters of the Chesapeake and the blue crab. It's got a texture to it, like Laid paper stock (link used as an example, not what brand it actually is). It's kind of like finely waled corduroy, but not as uniform. It's stamped in a very dull metallic (bronze?) foil. It's very simple on the front, just saying "Chesapeake". On the back cover there is all the necessary Write Notepads branding, and a picture of a blue crab with the scientific Latin name underneath it. It's all very clean and subtle, with a lot of negative space around it, which is somewhat of a trademark of theirs. The books didn't come in a box this time; instead, there is a Moleskine-esque belly band, which tucks in the front cover of the top book and the back cover of the bottom book. It's a good looking band, and I'd say it's a winner if I wasn't disappointed in missing out on the boxes, because those are just so damn cool! The belly band trumpets the ruling inside which is...
Dot Grid on the left and Lined on the right. They call it their "Hybrid Dot-Ruled Pages" on the band and it's alright. I would've preferred one or the other. You know me, I like lined, but dot grid is swiftly taking second place. My eyes aren't what they used to be, and I imagine more than one of you will have trouble even SEEING the dots on the page; they are THAT faint and small. It could be easily mistaken for a blank page, no question. The dots are perfectly aligned with the lines on the back of the page, so they blend in even more. It's almost as if you're using a blank page that you've tucked a guide sheet under. I liked the In The Pines dot grid. Those dots were smaller and fainter than other popular dot grid books out there, but the Chesapeake takes it to a whole new level. There are flecks and imperfections in the paper that are darker than the dots themselves.
At first I thought the paper was different, just by feel, a little thinner maybe. My testing revealed that it acted the same as previous editions and my subsequent inquiry to Write Notepads themselves confirmed that it was indeed the same. This is good paper, and while you won't be doing any calligraphy practice in it, it will hold up to most fountain pen use, with the occasional show through on medium nibs. The only bleed I had happen was a particularly wet M nib that I stopped on the page for whatever reason.
The Chesapeake pencil is orange (the color of the blue crab cooked!) with white printing. It has the Write logotype in their usual left-handed orientation, but the crab icon and the word "Chesapeake" is vertical, something they started doing with the Telegraph edition. I like it, although this time Musgrave went with basswood and a full hex, and I liked the slimmer cedar pencils that came with In The Pines and Telegraph better. You never know what you're gonna get with them. These have an orange eraser as well. The core is a little darker than the Telegraph, which was significantly lighter than the In The Pines pencil...which is to say, this is about a standard Musgrave HB. Pencils always come with the edition if you're a subscriber.
The subscriber extra is a crab mallet! I'll probably use this for absolutely nothing, although it would make a good gavel. If I ever have to judge a stationery-based kangaroo court, I'll be sure to bring this along. If I ever make a trip to Baltimore to visit, I'll bring it along and make Johnny Gamber take me to a place where I can use it and stuff myself with Old Bay flavored anything, cans of Natty Boh, catch an O's game and all, hon.
Overall, this is a solid edition. Being from the Midwest, I don't get the Chesapeake thing, but we don't really have much of those inspiring land features here, except maybe the Mighty Mississippi River, and I don't really want a shit-brown cover. The cover of the Chesapeake is pretty cool, but I'm really interested to see how I'm going to tackle the new ruling and whether I'll like the 2 different ones or not. I wouldn't put this one in my top 3 from Write, but it's hard to say there's a bottom 3, because they've all been pretty damn good. It's also hard to top the charcoal briquette bag from last year's Kindred Spirit.
Available from Write Notepads. $9.99 for a 3 pack.