Monthly Archives: July 2017

  • Top 10 Essential Stationery Items For The Summer

    From Bureau exclusives to great offers, from exotic imports to reinvented cult classics, even something not really stationery at all.


    Rhodia Heritage Notebooks

    Rhodia Heritage notebooks

    A brand new range of books that harks back to older ways of making things. We especially love the Raw Binding notebooks with their spine that has a...well, a raw feel to it. Sturdy, with the classic Rhodia 90gsm paper. One of the beauties of this binding is that it lies flat no matter where in the book you are.

    Why you need this item:

    It's a notebook but so much more. Retro styling has been used for a great purpose meaning this notebook will last the course, can handle all the ink you throw at it and it will be a pleasure to use each time you get it out. What's not to love?


    Field Notes Campfire Edition Notebooks

    Field Notes Campfire notebooks

    Field Notes produce four limited editions a year, one for each season. The summer edition this year is the Campfire edition and it's one of their best in a longtime. A set of 3 books, each with a different stage of campfire print on the cover (from dusk to night to dawn), plus a 'campfire master' sew-on patch. Release your inner scout.

    Why you need this item:

    A set of rugged little notebooks that you can sling in your bag or your pocket and it means you will always be able to jot down some important thought or note.


    Fjallraven Kanken Backpacks

    Fjallraven Kanken backpacks

    If you haven't already spotted them around you soon will. This Swedish staple from 1978 is now a bone-fide classic on the streets here. And why? It does a simple job very well - unzip it fully and you'll find everything you need, no rumaging around in endless pockets.

    Why you need this item:

    It strips back a backpack to its core function and does it very well. It is waterproof (Fjallraven are Swedish outdoors experts) and then there's the colours - so many to choose from, whether bright or muted.


    Lamy Safari Special Edition Fountain Pen 2017 - Petrol

    special edition lamy safari fountain pen

    Each year this pen is released with a new colour and it was always a big ask to follow on from last year's purple. Who would want to be David Moyes to follow Alex Ferguson? (it's a football reference, don't worry). Lamy actually pulled it off though with the petrol pen, an unusual but smart teal-petrol green colour. Special editions sell out so when they're gone they're gone.

    Whilst stocks last we have put this pen on promotion - grab it now for just £14.95

    Why you need this item:

    The Safari is widely regarded as an exceptional pen - it writes fantastically, is an easy pen to use for everyone and yet costs a fraction of many a more expensive pen. In other words, it's worth every penny.


    Kyoto Inks

    kyoto inks from japan

    A new ink range just in from Japan, and looking the part. Five colours, all lovely from a black-with-sheen to a dusky blue and a vibrant pink-red.

    Why you need this item:

    Sometimes you buy things because the sum of it is so much more than the parts. These inks just tick all the boxes, from the packaging to the bottle to the colours to the inks. Worth that indulgence once in a while to treat yourself.


    Walk With Me Maps

    Walk With Me maps

    We all want to decorate our homes with something a little different and these are just that. Beautiful maps-as-artwork from a series of artists covering different neighbourhoods of London, Madrid and Barcelona.

    Why you need this item:

    Because maps let you dream of places and these are also beautiful to look at - hang one on your wall and it will transport you somewhere.


    Taroko Breeze Notebook With Tomoe River Paper

    Taroko Breeze notebook with Tomoe River paper

    An exclusive notebook to Bureau, this book has it all. Right size, dot paper with an index and page numbers, and even with ink charts to record your favourite inks. Oh, and it has Tomoe River paper.

    Why you need this item:

    So many reasons but it's the paper that does it - Tomoe River paper is lightweight Japanese paper that handles ink better than heavier papers, so it's great to write with and yet packs in more paper for less weight.


    Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pens

    Caran d'Ache 849 fountain pen

    The 849 pen is a classic, around since 1969. The addition of a fountain pen to the 849 range just means you can have an ink pen in the classic 849 hexagonal shape.

    Why you need this item:

    Those bright fluorescent colours were just made for summer.


    Limited Edition Blackwing Vol.73 Pencils

    Blackwing limited edition Volume 73 pencils

    The limited edition Blackwing pencils always have a slightly convoluted naming convention, and this one is no exception (it has something to do with the measurement of the water clarity of Lake Tahoe, but please don't ask). What is quite certain is that these pencils are a winner. The intense blue is inspired by the waters of Lake Tahoe and the nice touch of the topographic map etched onto the barrel works.

    Why you need this item:

    Blackwing are widely regarded as the best of all pencils, and so if you haven't tried them yet then take the plunge and get yourself some. Time to find out why they are so highly rated.


    Observer's Astronomy Notebooks

    Astronomy notebook

    An unusual mix of night-sky infographics and unusual paper rulings might make this book seem a bit too quirky for its own good, but it's not. It's really good fun, informative and refreshingly different.

    Why you need this item:

    Doesn't everyone love to learn a bit more about the night skies above?

  • Q&A: What Is A Left-Handed Fountain Pen?

    Lamy Z50 left handed fountain pen nib

    How well suited are pens to left-handed people?

    We are often asked about pens for left-handers, specifically left-handed fountain pens. Given that a lot of people are left-handed this market is poorly catered for. Apart from those designed for young children, there is not much available.

    Although some 10% of the population are left-handed, as a child I was the only one in a class of 39 pupils apart from my teacher. She, being a no-nonsense type, was determined that if she could write ‘properly’ so could I. Properly meant ensuring my writing sloped to the right and not backwards and she would return all my left-sloping efforts to me with a big red ‘NO’ all over them. After being kept in for seemingly endless lunchtimes being made to write out over and over the handwriting cards we used, she declared herself reasonably satisfied. My writing was and still is, forward sloping.

    left handed writing with a fountain pen
    Left-handed writing that avoids smudging the ink (it's a Caran d'Ache 849 fluorescent orange fountain pen, nail varnish model's own)

    These days children are allowed to develop their own style and backward sloping writing is considered fine. The problem many left-handers have though is that they find it difficult to see what they have written as they are going over the text as they move forward This then leads to the curled hand or hook many people end up developing to avoid smudging. The answer is to try and learn to hold the pen under the writing so that you can still see. The grip should be well back from the end of the pen so as to keep the hand back and the wrist should be straight. Turning the paper by 45 degrees clockwise makes it easier to slant the writing forwards if that is preferred.

    But what of specialist pens? Many pens have a universal grip but with fountain pens there is the question of the nib. Of the brands we sell, only Lamy offers a left-handed fountain pen nib. Opinion is divided on how useful this is with some feeling there is no real difference between an LH nib and a medium. When I have tested them out I can feel no difference but that may be because of my writing style which is more akin to a right-hander (thanks Miss) but others may find differently. One of the issues to consider is that the left-handed nib only comes in medium so if you want a fine or broad, tough, they don’t make them for left-handers. Italic nibs can be difficult for those with overhand styles as contact with the paper can be lost with some angles but again, all these things depend on the writing style.

    Certainly for children there can be an advantage of offering a left-handed nib. Even if the difference is slight or non-existent, the child may feel they have a special writing instrument that will help them and sometimes small things make a difference. Arguably fountain pens in themselves can help as they require careful positioning which encourages a proper grip and of course they are a bit special. For adults though it is a harder choice. Ultimately, if you are happy with a medium nib then it may be worth trying the left-handed version to see if that feels comfortable. If you want a fine or broad though, give it a go and you may be surprised to find it works just fine. If not, you’ll have to come see me at lunchtime I guess.

  • What's Next For J. Herbin Anniversary Ink?

    J Herbin Annniversary 1670 bottles

    We have a quick look back at the golden lineage of J. Herbin Anniversary Inks and their beautiful shimmers. What do you think will be next?

    In the Beginning

    In the beginning, the humble 1670 Anniversary Inks started with a single incarnation called Hematite Red. This was one of their first inks to introduce a gold like reflection in the ink itself to add some magic to your writing. Although a brilliant red with a fantastic sheen, it never really garnered much critical acclaim but did start a small following. Not sure why, it is still a beautiful ink anyday.

    (left: old formula, right: current formula)

    J Herbin Anniversary 1670 Hematite Red old
    J Herbin Anniversary 1670 Hematite Red new

    J. Herbin went back to chemistry lab and had re-formulated the ink with real gold particles and came back with the ground breaking Ocean Blue. People started noticing that this was a serious line with a luxiourious look. Hematite Red was reformulated the same way and came back with a big revival. This will go down as a defining moment in the history books that helped define the gold/silver particle ink craze we have grown accustom to. With the foundations now set in place we were eager for the next.

    J Herbin Anniversary 1670 Ocean Blue

    All expectations flew out the window when Stormy Grey arrived at the scene. The build up in anticipation for this was on cloud nine and somehow when the ink was released we reached cloud ten. Oh boy did people go bananas for it. A classy look of gold shimmering upon a dark grey canvas. You could just about get away with it on office paperwork :)

    J Herbin Anniversary 1670 Stormy Grey

    You would think the story would have reached a climax but the 1670s had a super secret weapon for the next release. Emerald of Chivor, or as I refer to it as the Holy One. Our beliefs of gold and sheen shaken to the core by the unfound beauty that had been revealed to us. There will not be another ink like this in our generation. We have witnessed peak ink.

    J Herbin Anniversary 1670 Emerald Of Chivor

    Now surely we must be on the ink plateau, it can't get better can it? No, nothing will ever come close to the Holy One, but among the rest Caroube De Chypre holds it's own as a pleasant golden brown. Even if for it's unfortunate choice of picturing on the box...

    J Herbin Anniversary 1670 Caroube Chypre

    With the Famous Five now set firmly in stone, that leaves us with a big question, what's next? Will they be able to recreate another Emerald Of Chivor? What do you think will be next?

    Oh and if you'd like to own one of your very own bottles, you can the get inks here: J. Herbin Anniversary Inks.
    Swabs were done on Tomoe River paper, 68gsm, white found in the Taroko Design notebooks.

    P.S. Remember to keep those pens clean to keep the gold flowing!

  • Review: Taroko 'Tomoe River' Breeze - My Favourite Notebook

    Review of the Taroko Tomoe River Breeze Notebook

    My name's Phil and I’m a stationery addict


    We were approached on a Friday afternoon by someone who just the previous Friday afternoon had come by to buy some pens and inks. This time we were being asked for a week's work experience, starting on the following Monday morning. Short notice indeed. Normally such a request would fail for so many reasons, but this time it just felt right. And so Philip joined us for a week of (very last minute) work experience. And as part of the deal, he had to contribute a piece for our blog. Something he had a lot of spare time to do one morning when our website was down! So, we bring you Philip and his amazing Breeze notebook.

    Philip's Review

    Hi, I hope you find this review useful and interesting. My name's Phil and I’m a stationery addict doing a week of work experience here at Bureau Direct, having been given the chance to write a review of this excellent notebook was like a dream come true. As a student, this notebook would be perfect as a planner/bullet journal but I feel like It’d be a shame to relegate this notebook to such a boring use so instead I plan to use it to write short stories in there’s just something about it that makes me want to be creative and write – I suppose that’s the best feeling you could get from a notebook. I hope you find my review useful and informative.

    Taroko Tomoe River Notebook

    The moment I heard about this notebook, my heart skipped a beat, Tomoe River paper in an A5 string bound notebook… Sign me up! The 68gsm paper is soft to the touch and takes ink like a champ. Of course, with such a light paper you can expect some ghosting, but in my opinion, that adds to the charm. Every time I lay my hands on a lovely new notebook or item of stationery I feel discontent that my clumsy handwriting won’t be able to do it justice but this notebook hasn’t given me the opportunity, I’m just constantly enamoured by how my nib glides over the page so perfectly.

    Index page in the Taroko Breeze notebook
    Index page in the Taroko Breeze notebook (pages are numbered)

    The cover is minimalistic but elegantly so, it is made from a black card with a silver foil embossed design and looks stunning. There is a beautiful navy blue inside cover which I find extremely tasteful, I think anything more colourful would subtract from the main event, the paper. Inside there are 183 sheets of dotted paper; an index at the front and ink swab pages at the back. Last month I had to replace an old Wilko own brand notebook that I’d finished and I decided to pay a little extra and get a nicer one. My criteria were that the pages needed to take fountain pen ink better and not feather or bleed; the pages needed to be dotted or squared, preferably dotted and the pages had to be numbered. I finally settled on a Leuchtturm 1917 hardback notebook, a decision that I don’t regret. But this Breeze notebook by Taroko Design supersedes the Leuchtturm as it has higher paper quality and still has the dotted pages that are numbered.

    The ink swab pages are a lovely touch and whilst I don’t expect everyone to use them I know I will always come back to them whenever I fill a pen with a new ink, for those worried that these pages will mean you that you won’t have as much space for your notes don’t fear as they only occupy two double page spreads, for me this is a perfect number as I likely won’t use 18 different inks in the course of one notebook but I’m sure there may also be people who find this still too many or too few. I’m not careful enough to make artful splashes of ink in the swab boxes as I’m worried I’ll miss and get ink everywhere so instead I fall back on a gentle scribble but I wish I could have as stunning a swab page as in the promotional pictures, I’m sure you could achieve this quite easily with some courage and a pipette.

    Ink charts in the Taroko Breeze notebook
    Ink charts in the Taroko Breeze notebook

    I feel like it’s important to explain why Tomoe River paper is something to be so excited about. Normally the adage that the higher the gsm the higher the quality is correct but it falls short when you consider Tomoe River. Their 52gsm paper is comparable to 80gsm paper, like a Rhodia Dot-Pad, in terms of how well it takes ink but the 68gsm is comparable to their more premium 90gsm paper with the advantage of thinner pages so you can fit more sheets in the same dimensions. This results in Taroko Design’s decision to use the 68gsm paper a fantastic one as it is sturdier, less prone to the unexpected creasing that plagued me when I used the 52gsm paper, and the ghosting is less noticeable.

    I’ve been writing this review in Blackstone Barrister Black Ink and I just noticed that the ghosting on this paper is comparable to that of it on a Rhodia Dot-Pad, although it is still a lot more apparent in the Breeze, quickly switching to KWZ Iron Gall Turquoise I’ve noticed that whilst in the Breeze the ghosting is the same on the Dot-Pad it’s hardly noticeable. So, if you’re not a fan of ghosting or undecided it may be better to start with one of Taroko Design’s cheaper notebooks to get a feel for it.

    In the interest of being completely transparent there are a couple of things I may think about changing about the notebook if I were given the opportunity. The first is I’d probably add an elastic strap to close the notebook and stop it from possibly opening in my bag and having the pages crease, but this is unlikely to happen anyway, and I’d also like to add a fabric book mark in the same colour as the inside of the cover just to make finding the page you’re on slightly easier, although again this isn’t a make it or break it thing for me. This notebook has now become my favourite notebook that I own and is a contender for my favourite that I know exists, in the running with it is the Whitelines Link as I think it’s a great blend of the analogue and digital worlds and I intend to use them for all my school notes next year (Although this is subject to how nice the paper is for use with fountain pens).

  • Pen Glossary


    A type of plastic often used to make the barrels of pens.


    A pen with a tip that uses a rolling ball to transfer ink from a reservoir to the page, uses a thick oil based ink.


    The part of the pen that contains the filling system that when in use often rests between your thumb and forefinger.


    A brand of ballpoint pen.


    The term given to describe when ink is absorbed by the paper too much and is visibly noticeable on the other side of the sheet of paper (As if you had written on the other side, not to be confused with ghosting).

    Blotting Paper

    A type of more absorbent paper used to take ink off of a nib, or section.

    Breather Hole

    A small cutout in the nib used to draw air into the reservoir when ink is drawn out to keep a steady flow.

    Calligraphy Pen

    A pen that either uses a flex nib or an italic nib to create line variation in your writing and are often also dipping pens.


    The part of the pen that encloses the nib and is removed before use, this stops the ink from drying out as quickly.


    A piece of plastic that contains ink and is sealed until you install it into a pen.


    A metal or plastic protrusion from the cap of a pen that allows for the pen to be attached to a pocket.


    A component that allows for you to fill a cartridge pen from bottled ink. It is installed like a cartridge.


    A clear pen that allows you to see the mechanism of the fountain pen.

    Dip Pen

    A pen that you must routinely dip in a bottle of ink to replenish its ink supply, this was the predecessor to the fountain pen.

    Eye Dropper

    A pen that you fill the barrel with ink rather than using cartridges or a converter, these often have much higher ink capacity.

    Alternatively this is a glass tube with a bulb on one end that you can fill with ink in order to fill pens or inkwells.


    This is when a paper absorbs too much ink and it results in a frayed line that looks similar to a feather.


    An essential part of pens that use liquid ink, this is a piece of plastic or traditionally ebonite that regulates the flow of ink from the reservoir to the nib.

    Fountain Pen

    A type of pen that uses a metal nib to transfer ink from a reservoir in the barrel, be it a cartridge or embedded filling system.

    Gel Pen

    Not quite a ballpoint or rollerball it uses the same mechanism but uses a water based gel ink.


    This is when your writing can be faintly seen on the other side but the ink hasn't bleed through the page.

    Glass Pen

    A type of dip pen that uses a glass tip in order to write with

    Hooded Nib

    This is when the pen's section is designed so that it covers part of the nib, if not all but the tipping.


    A liquid that is used to leave a mark on a surface that we often use in pens for writing.

    Ink Window

    This is when you have a clear section of the barrel, this can be a cutout, that allows you to see the amount of ink you have left.

    Iridium Nib

    This is the name given to nibs that use a ball of iridium welded to the tip to give a smoother and more durable nib.

    Italic Nib

    A grind of nib the is cut off at the end to offer line variation in writing.


    A type of enamel "paint" that is used to the finish pens and gives a nicer appearance.

    Mechanical Pencil

    A type of pencil that instead of needing to be sharpened will advance the lead when you push a button or twist a part of the pencil.

    Multi Pen

    A type of ballpoint pen that uses multiple colours of ink that can be switched between at will.


    A piece of metal - usually steel, gold or palladium - that ends in a point allowing for the ink to be directed to the paper.

    Nib Creep

    This is when ink from the feed makes its way onto the nib around the slit.

    Oblique Nib

    A type of nib grind that is similar to an italic nib but is cut off at an angle. This gives a different style of line variation.

    Piston Fill

    This is a filling mechanism that uses an internal piston to draw ink into the barrel, or converter, somewhat like a syringe but often with a screw mechanism.


    This holds the ink in the pen be it a part of the barrel or the ink cartridge.


    Extremely similar to a ballpoint with the major difference being that uses a water based liquid ink.

    Screw Cap

    A cap that needs to be screwed on to be fixed in place rather than pulled on or pushed off.


    The part of the pen that you grip and that houses the nib and feed.


    This is a property of inks where a nib puts down more ink in certain places making lighter and darker parts of the writing.


    This is a fault in the nibs of pens where the nib will be writing but at certain parts the nib will not lay down ink.


    The cutout between the tines of the nib that allows ink to flow down the feed to the tip.

    Steel Nib

    This is a nib that is made out of steel, these usually also have iridium tipping.

    Stub Nib

    A grind of nib that is cut off at the end, similar to a italic nib, but the corners are rounded over. This sacrifices line variation for a smoother writing experience.


    The business end of a nib, this is the point or edge at the end of the nib that allows the pen to lay down a certain thickness of line.

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