Revisiting My Black n’ Red Review

Based on the search terms used to find this site, a lot of you are looking for opinions about Black n’ Red notebooks. Either that or there’s some other Black n’ Red that I don’t know about.

Assuming it’s the notebooks driving the traffic here, I decided to revisit my review from 2009 and see what, if anything, has changed and maybe take a look at the company history while I was at it.

I still use the spiral bound Black n’ Red notebooks on a regular basis, they’ve become a fixture on my desk at home and work. I use them with all sorts of different pen types and the paper never lets me down.

There are rumors the paper changed some time after my initial review. If I recall, they say the paper became slicker, shinier, perhaps less friendly to fountain pens. I dug through my stash of notebooks and found the notebook used in the 2009 review and a more recent purchase. At the very least, the printing on the back has changed.

Black n' Red Side By Side

You’ll notice the branding changes from John Dickinson to Hamelin, a likely point for the paper to change as well. John Dickinson was purchased by Hamelin in 2005 but they seem to have waited until 2008 to change the Black n’ Red covers. The Dickinson era notebooks claimed “Made in the EU” while Hamelin claim “Made in Germany”. Germany is in the EU but who knows whether they’re manufactured in the same place.

A quick unscientific test of rubbing my index finger over a page of each notebook tells me the Hamelin branded notebook pages feel a bit smoother. That proves almost nothing but it’s worth noting. I can’t say I’ve noticed all that much difference using them with fountain pens but others have, specifically with drying time.

A visit to blacknred.com shows they’ve been busy expanding their product line, at least for the UK market. There are quite a number of great looking notebooks and planners available although I don’t think we can get many of these in the States. They have a link for USA buyers but it takes you to Mead.com where they’re branded as Mead Black n’ Red and the selection is the same as I’ve seen in my local stores. The Mead branding is interesting since ACCO (parent company of Mead) and Hamelin are competitors in the office supply market. Maybe someone can explain that to me.

The prices have gone up as you might expect but occasionally you can catch them on sale and when you do, I suggest you grab them. The spiral and casebound notebooks are widely available at Rite Aid and Staples and if I were to hear whispers of their cancellation, I’d raid every store in the area to stock up for the future. That’s how good they are.

We’re blessed with a ton of great notebooks these days but I count Black n’ Red as one of the best you can find without ordering online. Go forth and buy!