I thought it was about time I reviewed the Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbook. This is where most of my ideas get developed, and it figures prominently in a lot of my posts.
Looking back on other sketch books I’ve used, I was mainly looking for something cheap, and not too large that I couldn’t easily carry it in a messenger bag. I did use larger sketchbooks for a time, but quickly realized they were unwieldy for transport.
I’m also somewhat fickle about sketchbooks, and I have more than a few which I started, then abandoned. They seemed a good choice in the store, but once I started using them they just didn’t feel right. Some wouldn’t open properly, and others had paper that easily bled through. This was back when I exclusively used ink. I now only work in pencil, so bleed though isn’t an issue.
Around 2010, I started gravitating towards the soft cover Moleskine sketchbooks. It was the perfect size (for me), and I liked the additional features like the elastic enclosure and storage pocket. Yes. They were more expensive and “trendy”, and I was okay with that.
I used these for many years, until one literally fell apart. While Moleskine did send me a replacement, I started looking for something a little more robust.
That’s when I came across Leuchtturm.
Founded in 1917—and re-established in Hamburg in 1948—the Leuchtturm notebook line was started in 2005.
I also moved away from the soft to hard cover. Quite often, I found myself working with the sketchbook in my lap. The soft cover is lighter, but not the best when you don’t have a solid platform to work on. The hard cover adds a bit more weight to the bag, but not so much to really notice a difference.
I don’t intend for this to be a Leuchtturm vs Moleskine post. However, I know many people may be wondering which one to get, as they can seem quite similar. In my area (Greater Toronto Area) the stores mainly carry Leuchtturm or Moleskine, plus a smattering of “miscellaneous” notebooks. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed the rack space for the Leuchtturm increasing.
Specs and Features
- 249 numbered pages
- 145 x 210mm
- 000g (on my kitchen scale, anyway)
- 8 perforated and detachable sheets at the end of the notebook. Personally, I recoil in horror at the thought of ripping a page out of a notebook.
- Blank table of contents
- Expandable pocket on the inside back cover
- Page markers
- Elastic enslosure band
- Thread bound book opens flat
- Archiving stickers
- Ink and acid proof paper
- Designed in Germany. Made in Taiwan.
You’re presented with a thank-you note and small leaflet when you open the notebook (below).
What I like (in no particular order) …
I always always enjoy picking this up to work. It’s important to enjoy the tools you work with. As Marie Kondo would say, “Does it spark joy?” This notebook sparks joy.
In the past, I usually went back and forth between lined and blank notebooks. The great thing about the dots is they get out of the way when I’m sketching something really rough. When I need more structure, they’re just enough to get the job done. I also like that they’re printed in a more subtle grey, as are the page numbers and table of contents.
Table of contents and page numbers
I find this feature really valuable. As I start on each piece, I enter the title here. No more hunting through the whole book to find a concept. Sure, I could just make one from scratch, but Leuchtturm pre-printed one for me.
You get two of these, versus the one on the Moleskine. While it’s not a feature I use very often, it’s handy if I’m working on a new concept, and need to refer back to an earlier one.
I’m not going to get into an ink bleed comparison between the Leuchtturm and the Moleskine. There are plenty of other blog posts out there on that subject. I do want to comment on the page colour. I find the Leuchtturm paper a bit less yellow than the Moleskine. This is a subjective thing. The Leuchtturm just feels less “old” feeling to me.
In the image below, the Leuchtturm is on the left, Moleskine in the middle, and a small stack of laser paper on the right.
As Leuchtturm says, “Details make all the difference.”
The expandable pocket on the back cover, with labeling stickers (below).
The 145 x 210mm size, when placed flat, is perfect for photocopying or scanning.
Other sizes, colours …
17 colours …
Where to buy
This is a widely available product. Most decent book and art supply stores should carry them (in addition to Amazon).
Whenever possible, I prefer to purchase from local vendors. In the Greater Toronto Area, that would be Wonder Pens.