The Paper Kind

Creative living.

Leuchtturm1917 120gsm Notebook Review

I’ve been a fan of the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks for a while now. I couldn’t even tell you how many I’ve used over the years. So when I found out Leuchtturm was releasing a new version of their notebook with thicker, 120gsm paper I knew I had to try it. 

I love my Leuchtturm notebooks for bullet journaling, but I also like to use regular notebooks as a sketchbook. Where I can do drafts of my calligraphy and work out ideas. When I found out about this new Leuchtturm1917 notebook, with thicker paper, I thought I could maybe use it as a sketchbook. But, as much as I love it, it doesn’t quite work out for my needs. 

Leuchtturm1917 120gsm Notebook

First Impressions

One of the most noticeable changes in the Leuchtturm 120gsm notebook is the size. Rather weighty, as you might put it. This is because of the thicker paper, but do note the extra width compared to the regular Leuchtturm1719 notebooks. I know most people won’t be put off by this but I have a thing where I don’t like thick notebooks. 

Leuchtturm1917 120gsm Notebook

Other than that the only real other difference is the noticeable improvement in paper quality. The regular Leuchtturm1719 notebook paper is fine. But this paper is extremely smooth, which I assume will make it a nicer experience when writing with a fountain pen. 

The Details

The new Leuchtturm1917 120gsm edition is functionally very similar to the standard Leuchtturm notebooks. It comes in a smaller range of colours, compared to the standard Leuchtturm1917. And doesn’t seem to have the option for gridded paper. Though if you’re a bullet journal user don’t worry, it still comes in the dot grid version. 

I intended this notebook to be a sketchbook and went for plain paper, rather than my usual dot grid paper. One thing I like about the Leuchtturms is how the plain notebooks come with a sheet of gridded paper. This is so you can see the lines through the notebook page and still write evenly, it’s nice to see they thought of this problem. However, the thicker paper did make it harder to see this through the page. 

ink swatches in the Leuchtturm1917 120gsm Notebook

Even though the 120gsm notebook is noticeably thicker than its 80gsm cousin. The pages do lie flat which is nice, especially if you’re working across a double-page spread. However, the thicker paper does mean you don’t get quite so many pages in your notebook (203 compared to 251). This isn’t an issue for me, but I know some bullet journalers do like their notebook to last the whole year and fewer pages may be an issue. There are also no perforated pages at the back of the notebook, though I’ve never actually used these in my notebook.

I’ve seen a few reviews which mention how well the paper handles ink, and I’m not sure I’d agree. The paper is certainly smoother than most other notebook papers which makes it a nice writing experience. But I did notice some significant bleeding and ghosting with the inks I tried. I’ll go more in-depth on this in the next section. 

Ink Tests

I tested the paper with the pens and other inks I tend to use most often. It should be noted that though I use some fountain pen inks, I use them with a dip pen so there is a chance they act differently from how they would in a fountain pen. These fountain pens have some gum arabic added which should help prevent bleeding, but as you will see, this didn’t help.

ink swatches in the Leuchtturm1917 120gsm Notebook

Most of my common standard pens and pencils worked fine. As mentioned before, the paper is very smooth which makes it a nice writing experience. Even the Ecoline pens which are very “juicy” worked fine with very little show-through. I enjoyed writing with my Lamy Safari, though this ink did take a little longer to dry, something to be aware of. 

My standard black calligraphy ink (a mixture of walnut and Sumi-e) looked nice on this paper. And again it was a very smooth writing experience. The Leonardt EF nib I use tends to catch even on smoother papers but I had no real issues. The only problem I had was when using the Troublemaker inks which had some noticeable bleeding, especially with the Mango ink. 

My Thoughts On The Leuchtturm1917

I don’t want to come across as being too critical, because I think the quality of the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks is good. I think this particular notebook just doesn’t work for how I want to use it. 

Let’s go through the pros and cons. The new Leuchtturm notebook has thicker paper, which makes it a far nicer writing experience. But the downside of it having fewer pages. It’s also slightly more expensive than the regular Leuchtturm1917 notebook. So the real question you need to ask yourself is this, is there a specific reason why you would need the 120gsm paper?

ink swatches in the Leuchtturm1917 120gsm Notebook

Usually, if you were a fountain pen user. Or if you were one of those people who turned your bullet journal into a sort of art journal come scrapbook. The thicker paper would be an advantage. You would assume the paper would cope well with everything you could throw at it. The problem is this, I’m not sure the quality of this paper is good enough to cope with fountain pen inks or anything else one might throw at it. The paper tore when I tried to remove a small piece of washi tape, something I specifically use because it’s less tacky and so shouldn’t rip the paper. 

I know I’m not using the Leuchtturm1917 as a regular notebook. I have expectations of it which go above how it was intended to be used. But I use my notebooks as a sketchbook because I know they can handle most things I throw at them. Even my standard 80gsm Leuchtturm notebook can cope with fountain pen inks and any other type of wet media I decide to use in it. 

ink swatches in the Leuchtturm1917 120gsm Notebook
It may not be obvious but this page has some significant warping from
gouache paint on the other side.

My opinion is this; if you’re looking for a notebook and you’re deciding between a Leuchtturm or some other brand. Take a moment and consider how you will be using that notebook. I bought this notebook because I thought it would work as a sketchbook, hence the blank paper. I’m now realising this was potentially the wrong choice. It’s hard to not make a comparison when I’m currently using a dotted MD Paper notebook as a sketchbook and it has coped with almost every media I’ve used in it so far. Even with much thinner paper. 

Finally

The Leuchtturm1917 120gsm is a lovely notebook. Though it didn’t work for me and my needs, it’s still a great choice if you’re looking for a new notebook. If you’re wanting to buy a new notebook to use as a bullet journal and know you might be using more unconventional mediums maybe it won’t work. It’s really up to you and what you want out of a notebook.

Apparently, I’m one of those people who make TikToks now. If you’d like to see how this paper stands up in real time I made a video while I was testing most of the inks mentioned in this post. 

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