Fabriano Secolo XIII (13th Century) Stationery Review

Fabriano Secolo XIII Paper (13th Century)

Fabriano Secolo XIII (13th Century) is a handmade 100% cotton paper that is supposedly produced using a 13th century “Fabrianese” paper making method, hence the name Secolo XIII.

This paper can be purchased from Fabriano’s US web boutique in a set of 50 sheets and 50 envelopes at a staggering (and oddly specific) price of $257.39.

Luckily I was in Italy a couple of weeks ago and passed by a Fabriano boutique which sold Secolo XIII in packages of 20 writing sheets.

In the store only the hugely expensive box set was displayed. I had to ask if it was possible to buy a smaller quantity. The shop attendant said yes and yelled some unintelligible Italian up a small stairwell behind the register and what seemed like an hour later a small package of Secolo XIII writing sheets arrived.  The shop attendant insisted on counting each sheet. I told him I was in a bit of a hurry and not to worry about it. The pack was supposed to have twenty sheets. The attendant counts “twenty one”; he starts over and gets twenty one for a second time and still surprised at the result counts a third time, “twenty one”. He removed one sheet and allowed me to pay and I ran out of there.

So how is Fabriano’s top-of-the-line paper? Well let’s start with the good.

Fabriano Secolo XIII Paper (13th Century)

The deckled edges are much nicer and much more consistent than the Amalfi paper’s.

Fabriano Secolo XIII Paper (13th Century)

The paper has a unique texture. If you hold it up to the light you can see that it is a laid paper but the texture isn’t actually ribbed, it has a more sporadic mould made texture like Fabriano’s bottom-of-the-line (but still wonderful) Medioevalis. The texture is finer than Medioevalis but rougher their than mid priced paper, Minerva (review to come).

Secolo XIII only comes in an ivory color (the Amalfi looks white by comparison).  It is quite an attractive looking paper.

Fabriano Secolo XIII Paper (13th Century)

The paper handles fountain pen ink well and like the Amalfi only the Pilot Hi Tec 1.0mm gel ink pen caused minor bleeding.

Slightly more noticeable ghosting than on the Amalfi but overall very good performance with fountain pen ink.
Slightly more noticeable ghosting than on the Amalfi but overall excellent performance with fountain pen ink.

Now for the bad:

Despite having a finer texture than the Medioevalis, Secolo XIII has a good deal more feedback with my pens.  It’s more resistance than I like.  Cotton usually isn’t as nice to write on as wood pulp paper and this seems be the case with Secolo XIII.

The paper feels…well, like paper.  It doesn’t have that special fabric-like hand that you get with Amalfi.  Secolo XIII reminds me of a Southworth Resume cotton paper I have.

Secolo XIII is thick and I cannot use a ruled guide sheet underneath it.

Lastly, the price…it’s more than twice as expensive as Amalfi and I don’t understand why.  Secolo XIII is beautiful looking but for a luxury paper it really isn’t that nice to write on…or touch for that matter.

Fabriano’s Minerva and Medioevalis papers are some of the nicest I have used and as such I had high expectations for Secolo XIII; ultimately I was disappointed.  Not only is it the worst paper to write on in Fabriano’s correspondence line, it’s also one of the most expensive plain writing papers on the market.  Secolo XIII is a hard pass for me.

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Amatruda Amalfi Paper Review

Amatruda Amalfi Paper

Amatruda’s Amalfi paper is the most beautiful handmade paper I have used to date. It is a 100% cotton rag paper with a 100 lb weight (approximately 148 gsm). It is soft and in hand it drapes like a fabric. Needless to say this a very special paper.

Amatruda Amalfi Paper

Amatruda has been producing paper since 1390, making it one of the oldest paper mills in Europe. The Amalfi paper is a traditional handmade paper.

This paper comes in a various formats and colors and like most wonderful papers is annoyingly difficult to find in the United States. There are some good online retailers who sell this paper but the format and color options are quite limited.

Amatruda Amalfi Paper

I purchased a stationery set in the ivory color and it contains twenty A4 sheets and envelopes for $38. At this price it definitely will not be my everyday writing paper.

The sheets and envelopes have deckled edges though on the sheets I received the right edge seems to be a bit more deckled than the rest. I am not sure if this is a characteristic of the paper in general or of the batch I received.

Amatruda Amalfi Paper

The Amalfi Crest watermark is pressed into the paper making it much more visible than a normal watermark. It is very easy to feel with your finger but surprisingly I couldn’t feel it when writing over it.  This paper is also available with an angel watermark.

Amatruda Amalfi Paper

Amalfi has a nice texture to it and I found it provided pleasant feedback.

Amatruda Amalfi Paper

The only pen that I tested that bled was the Pilot Hi Tec Point 1.0mm gel pen. None of the fountain pens I tried including the 2.4mm Pilot Parallel bled.

Amatruda Amalfi Paper

I experienced no ghosting and none of the gel ink from the Hi Tec Point came through to the back of the page. I was also able to clearly see my ruled guide sheet underneath this paper, a nice bonus for a thick paper.

Amalfi is my favorite paper to date but I am not happy with the formats available in the USA. I have only been able to find the writing sheets sold in sets and I am too cheap to pay for the envelopes. If anyone knows of a place that sells only the sheets please let me know.

Later this week I will be reviewing another handmade cotton paper, Fabriano’s top-of-the-line Secolo XIII and will provide a comparison to the Amalfi; it will be a battle of the handmade paper titans…