10 March 2015

New for Spring: Moleskine® Cover Jackets

New refillable Moleskine® cover jackets by Parvum Opus.

Well, perhaps it's not quite spring yet, but here in Michigan, a 40+ degree sunny day like today can certainly bring on a case of spring fever! And just in time, we've introduced a new series of colorful jackets for everyone's favorite notebooks from Moleskine®. Even though I make books here in the bindery, I adore filling my Moleskine cahier journals with notes, sketches, doodles.. They've been my favored sketchbooks for many years. The Moleskine covers         
An interior view of the jacket, lined in 
Italian book cloth. The pockets along 
the edges accept the front and back 
covers of the Moleskine® cahier.
we've designed are flexible, and meticulously tailored using the same Italian book cloth and fine art papers from France, Japan and Italy used in our hand-bound books. They feature rounded corners and allow access to the journal's back pocket. We've also designed a series of fun adhesive labels to personalize the covers-- such a small thing, but our clients are having great fun with them. Best of all, our cover jackets are refillable, so once a journal has been filled with genius ideas, it can be removed and a fresh one slipped in. Soon we'll be introducing slipcases sized to fit the Moleskine® cahier journals, beautifully archiving up to twelve volumes of art- and poetry-filled journals. Stay tuned...

It takes many tiny cuts to form the beautifully
rounded corners on our 
Moleskine® jackets.

It's such fun to design a new range for the bindery, especially as we find we've tapped into the shared obsession surrounding the Moleskine® cahiers. Keeping journals or commonplace books is nothing new, of course, and stunning historical examples exist. If Pinterest search results are any indication, note-taking, sketching and pleine air painting are alive and well, despite the ease of 'electronic options'. 

An incredible example from the past: A page from Carl Linnaeus' commonplace
book, 1726-1727. You can see and read the entire
archive thanks to The Linnean Society of London.

And a beautiful example from the present: Architectural
sketches by 
Chema Pastrana, via Pinterest.

Are you familiar with commonplace books? According to Wikipedia:
"Commonplace books (or commonplaces) were a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. Such books were essentiallyscrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator's particular interests. They became significant in Early Modern Europe.
"Commonplace" is a translation of the Latin term locus communis (from Greek tópos koinós, see literary topos) which means "a theme or argument of general application", such as a statement of proverbial wisdom. In this original sense, commonplace books were collections of such sayings, such as John Milton's commonplace book. Scholars have expanded this usage to include any manuscript that collects material along a common theme by an individual.
Commonplace books are not diaries nor travelogues, with which they can be contrasted: English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke wrote the 1706 book A New Method of Making Common-Place-Books, "in which techniques for entering proverbs, quotations, ideas, speeches were formulated. Locke gave specific advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using such key topics as love, politics, or religion. Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective." [1] By the early eighteenth century they had become an information management device in which a note-taker stored quotations, observations and definitions. They were even used by influential scientists. Carl Linnaeus, for instance, used commonplacing techniques to invent and arrange the nomenclature of his Systema Naturae (which is the basis for the system used by scientists today)."

Whether you keep commonplace books, journals, diaries, vade mecums or doodle pads, we're delighted to share in the long-running and very human enthusiasm for putting pen to paper. Enjoy!


  1. Dear Erika,

    I've created common place books in the past without knowing the history or proper nomencature! I've found them useful and fun for trips, but I've also started one for favorite quotations. Sometimes you hear a gem that is so good that you want to keep it on ice for your own use!

    That marbled green is perfect, but I'm off to see your other paper selections . . .

    Best wishes,


    1. Hello hello Mark! Such a long time... I hope all is well! I'm not surprised in the least that you keep commonplace books! With all of your interests, it's no wonder they'd come in handy. I think I first encountered the term in a book by Anne Fadiman, but I can't be sure now... The notation is in one of my own commonplace books, but I can't remember which one!! In any case, I think it's a wonderful practice, and I love to revisit all of the noteworthy items from my past readings... I think we're in very good company!
      Warm regards,

  2. Hello Erika, Paper notebooks work in a different way than electronic versions (although both have their uses), so I don't think that written notebooks will be going away soon. They are particularly useful for sketches and marginalia. And paper notebooks can be more permanent that computerized ones. Even when backed up, computer files become unreadable after a time because their formats become outdated. However, all you have to do with an old notebook is open it up.

    I loved getting the glimpse of Linnaeus' commonplace book; botany has long been my hobby, and I have always admired Linnaeus, a bronze statue of whom is near the entrance of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

    1. Hello hello Jim! It's lovely to hear from you-- I hope all is well! I of course completely agree with you about the superiority of hand-written notes. I often think what a bore it will be for future archaeologists/anthropologists to study 21st century humans: I imagine much of the interpersonal communications will be in the form of electronic files-- and text messages! I can't help think these are much less interesting and much less telling than the marks we make with pen and paper. I came across an old accounting ledger a few years ago in an antique shop-- that ledger, with only line items and sums was so beautiful, it absolutely piqued my curiosity about the long-dead people involved... The handwriting, done in dip pen and ink, the quality of the paper and bindings, told so much about the people, and the time... I'm so glad you enjoyed Linnaeus' page-- beware of getting lost in the Linnean Society's website!!! Just when you think you've found the perfect inspirational and brilliant page, along comes another, and another... What a treat to be able to read these and catch a glimpse of the genius at work.
      Warm regards,

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