Thursday, 24 February 2011

Silvine Memo Book

This post about indexing, by the miserablist “Nemo” on the Mobilis Ink Mobili blog, reminded me of the existence of the Silvine brand of stationery, which has been a staple of British newsagents’ stationery shelves for years. I remember that often, they were the only affordable notebooks available in the local Lavells or Martins in the days before Moleskine. Established in 1901, the Silvine brand is owned by the Sinclair company, based in Otley, West Yorkshire. Silvine is one of the few British stationery brands left in operation, but seems to be run on 21st Century lines: for example, it boasts ISO 14001 and FSC certification. Silvine’s red jackets stood out a mile and their Memo Books were commonly used for all kinds of quotidian jobs: shopping lists, to-do lists, aircraft spotters’ lists of airliner registrations, and so on. Silvine was never seen as a premium brand; it was just an everyday brand of stationery.

Recently,I popped into the local stationer’s and picked up two of Silvine’s classic products: the Exercise Book, and the aforementioned Memo Book.

It's been many years since I used one of these: and the quality is surprisingly good. It has 72 pages, and measures a firmly pocket-sized 158mm tall by 99mm wide. On the cover it proudly proclaims that it is "BRITISH MADE". It is also very cheap at GBP0.71, or just over one USD. The cover is flimsy, but the paper is fine to write on. I used a variety of fountain pens, pencils and different Stabilo Point 88 felt-tip pens, and found that there was only minor bleed-through on one of my pens, the Pilot M90, which for this test was loaded with Diamine Imperial Blue ink. There was no discernible feathering where I've written with the fountain pens. See below for the results:

The paper is feint ruled - I don't believe they produce either plain or squared versions - and comes in a cash-book variant as well. In 2008, Silvine changed the brand logo: the one pictured above is the old one, which I prefer. Its replacement is just the name, without the laurel wreath, in a serif font.

This is a cheap, handy-sized little memo book with no frills at all. With a bit of care, it could be a constant companion on shopping trips, or even a trip to the local airport for a bit of aircraft spotting, like this for example:


  1. I've just noticed that Mobilis Ink Mobili has been removed, so apologies for the dead link.

  2. The other stationery brand I remember from those days was Lion Brand. Their notebooks were also red. I recall the paper as being yellowish, rough textured and full of dark specks.
    They also made a brown glue we used for sticking things into albums and scrapbooks. It always seemed to leak out round the edges and stick the pages together.

  3. Anne, I had completely forgotten about Lion Brand! Another forgotten English manufacturer available in local shops, along with Bear Brand tights.

  4. Remember Butterfly lick to stick tape for repairing sheet music before sellotape's invention?

  5. Yep. Definitely got one of those babies.