Baron Fig "The Lock" Review
Baron Fig's latest special edition Confidant ("The Lock") is pitched as the perfect companion to their new brass Squire pen ("The Key"). But for those of us who find it hard to unlock a spot in our hearts for a rollerball, is The Lock good enough to stand on its own as a notebook?
Materials & Construction
The Lock is the latest special edition of Baron Fig’s Confidant line of notebooks. It was designed as a complement to the special edition brass Squire pen. Personally, I wasn’t that interested in the Squire, so this review covers the notebook as a standalone product.
Inside this notebook we’re met with 192 pages of acid-free, fine-grain paper in a sumptuous creamy white hue. Though the standard Confidant line is offered in blank, ruled, or dot grid options, only dot grid is available on The Lock. Dot grid is my favorite page layout, so I wasn't put off by the lack of other options, but some may be disappointed by this.
The binding on The Lock appears to be the same standard stitched binding that Baron Fig uses on its other Confidant notebooks. One thing that has been less than enjoyable is that over time The Lock loses its ability to close firmly. Though I’m not usually a fan of elastic bands on my notebooks, I sometimes find myself longing for one here to help keep this thing closed tight.
The Lock includes a simple, fabric ribbon bookmark in a tasteful gold hue that blends well with the overall aesthetic. The end of the ribbon doesn’t seem to have any sort of finish and looks like it will fray over time. My notebook is still in new enough condition that it hasn't been too bad, but other reviewers didn't seem to fare as well.
The design of The Lock is quite charming. The Confidant series features fabric-wrapped hardcovers, and the forest green version on The Lock is quite the looker. The front cover features a debossed maze pattern and keyhole icon that Baron Fig describes as “cryptic” and “labyrinthine.” That motif is continued on the inner cover, where the maze pattern appears again, this time with an attractive gilding and alongside more cryptic hieroglyphs. The back cover repeats the maze pattern, but omits the keyhole icon. To me, the whole aesthetic really works well and comes together nicely without going overboard and becoming cheesy.
At 137 mm x 195 mm (5.4” x 7.7”), the paper in The Lock is slightly smaller than the A5 standard. I didn’t find this difference to be appreciable, so if you are used to "true" A5 notebooks, The Lock doesn’t feel that different. The paper features a simple dot grid layout that appears on all 192 pages. Dots are light gray in color, allowing for a clean look that doesn’t distract. I’m pleased that Baron Fig includes 12 perforated pages at the back of these notebooks, but wish there were more. Numbered pages also would have been a plus.
The Lock stood up well to my writing performance tests, with only a few caveats. For the most part, the paper is fountain pen friendly, and has a light grittiness to it that certainly makes it coarser than Rhodia paper. I didn’t experience any feathering with any of the inks or nibs I used, even flex nibs. The paper is highly absorbent, though, which does mean a few things:
First, the high absorbancy of the paper means that some inks won’t shade as well as they might on less absorbent paper. You can see the difference in the image below. Monteverde Jade Noir (a shading green-black) appears quite different on this paper than on something less absorbent like a Rhodia DotPad. Strokes are also wider when controlling for the same pen, ink, and nib.
I experienced no bleeding with this paper, and only very modest show-through, even when using dark inks with broad nibs. Overall, I'm confident that most fountain pen users' expectations will be met by the quality of this paper.
As for the notebook itself, it also held up well, with some caveats. For the most part the cover has been durable, but the fabric does stain and smudge relatively easily, so expect to see some wear. This issue gets exacerbated by the debossed pattern on the cover, which sometimes traps additional debris. Overall, though, The Lock has stood up admirably during my review, and I suspect it will continue to over time.
Baron Fig sells The Lock for $20, which is in line with previous Confidant offerings and popular competitors at this size. For that price, you get a conveniently-sized notebook with an attractive cover, quality paper, and sturdy construction. The “lock & key” motif and option to bundle this notebook with the Squire is a nice bonus, and one needn’t purchase the Squire to enjoy this notebook. Overall, I have no qualms with this purchase or recommending this notebook to others.
Final Thoughts & Score
Attractive appearance inside and out
Ample amount of fountain pen friendly paper
Absorbent paper may reduce shading properties of inks
Closes less firmly over time
Only 12 perforated pages