Earlier this week I briefly recapped some things I liked and didn’t like in the pen world from 2018, and talked about a few developments that I’d like to see in 2019. One area that I didn’t touch on is writing accessories, a sector of the stationery industry that has been growing rapidly in light of the resurgent interest in pens and ink. I decided to devote a separate post to the topic highlighting five of my favorite new accessory-type things introduced in 2018. Without further ado, here they are:
Bellroy Workfolio A5. This particular folio ended up being a touch too small for my own everyday use (hence its appearance in the year-end giveaway), but I continue to be a huge Bellroy fan and loved watching them expand outside of wallets and pocket notebook covers in 2018. In addition to the Workfolios (which also come in a larger A4 size), Bellroy has released a line of bags, as well as…
Bellroy Classic Pouch. I guess I should mention that this list is not in any particular order, because the Bellroy Classic Pouch is my most-used non-pen gear item of the year. It’s not even purely a pen accessory - I also use it to carry cables, Mac dongles, USB thumbdrives, and SD cards in addition to a few pens, post-its, and paper clips.
Atelier Musubi Pen Case. One item that I haven’t been able to review yet, but love, is the Atelier Musubi two-pen case that I picked up from Daryl at the Big Apple Pen Club meeting. I’m working on carrying fewer pens with me at any given time (and generally having fewer pens inked at once) so this gorgeous, handmade fabric case fits right into my “own/carry fewer things, but carry nicer” mentality that I want to bring into 2019. (Since I haven't reviewed the pen case yet, I linked to an excellent review by the team at Hand Over That Pen, a blog you should be reading!)
Leather Goods from Baron Fig: The Guardian and the Sheath. While Baron Fig as a brand certainly isn’t new to the scene, I’ve enjoyed seeing them expand their line, which they have continued to do despite moving away from their perhaps-too-ambitious limited edition subscription service/monthly release plan. One particular area where the company has been particularly active is leather goods, including not only notebook covers in every size, but pen sleeves and even wallets. Baron Fig manages to maintain their clean, minimal aesthetic while offering a range of color options. I’ve been carrying one of their slim bifold wallets for the past six months or so and have been impressed with the durability and quality.
Toffee Lincoln Briefcase. Again, not a new brand, but definitely new to me. I’ve continued to use this slimline leather bag as a computer case or a minimal briefcase when I just want to take a few pens, a pad of paper, and maybe an iPad Pro for some quick work in a coffee shop.
Other brands that continued to kill it in 2018 include Good Made Better (makers of the Penwell), who released their new Penwell “Traveler” via Kickstarter. I’ve done much gushing over the Penwell recently, but I left it off this “Top 5” list because I kept that concept in the “2017” bucket. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed this Italian leather notebook cover from The British Belt Company, and it’s been fun to watch new fountain-pen friendly notebook brands such as Stifflexible and Dingbats* continually improve their paper and bring fun new designs to market. I’m sure these trends will continue into 2019!
Things That Didn’t Stick
A couple items that I mentioned earlier in the year (or even in 2017) fell out of use as the year went on. One is the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter, which is an awesome product if you enjoy using multiple slim, single-subject A5 notebooks. (Yes, I know you can put larger notebooks into the Roterfaden too, but it makes it fairly bulky and a bit hard for me to write with.) At the end of the day, I couldn’t justify hanging onto what is a relatively expensive accessory so I sold it off after admitting that it doesn’t fit my workflow. Other cases that didn’t find a permanent home in my workflow included folios such as the Bellroy A5 (mentioned above) and Nock Co Seed A5, as well as the Nock Co. Lanier briefcase. All of these are excellent products - I’ve simply come to terms with the fact that I need to move on from those products that I’m definitely not going to use every day, otherwise I’ll end up drowning in bags and pen cases. Without exception, the reason these items didn’t work out for me is my personal preference with respect to size and format. I prefer to use hardbound A5 notebooks in leather covers, and if I carry a portfolio, I need it to be A4 or American legal size.
So this is it for the year! I’m signing off until after the New Year, and wish everyone a happy end to 2018!
Disclaimer: I received several of the items featured in this post for review purposes, free of charge (you can find details through the linked reviews). As always, everything in this post is solely my own personal opinion, and should be taken as such.