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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Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery Review

Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery

Fabriano is one of the oldest paper mills still operating in Europe and they produce a plethora of high quality papers.  Medioevalis is the most affordable line stationery in their “prestige correspondence” range and it is the only one that can be easily bought in the United States.

Medioevalis comes in two colors, a cream, and a white, as well as various paper weights.  There are numerous formats including ones specifically designed to be used with inkjet and laser printers.

The format I am reviewing is the A5 writing pad and envelopes.  The pad is in the cream color and contains twenty-five A5 size sheets and one blotting page.

Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery

The blotting page is a really nice feature that most stationery writing pads omit.

Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery

The mold made paper is 120 g/m² and has a hand torn deckled edged.  The sheets are “self-deckling” such that when removed the top edge has the same delicate deckled finish as the other edges.

Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery

Despite its textured finish this paper works very well with fountain pens.  There is a minimal but pleasant amount of feedback and being made out of a wood pulp it accepts fountain pen ink quite nicely.  The paper absorbs the fountain pen ink making for quick dry times.  In my test there was no bleed and very minimal ghosting a feathering.

Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery

This paper is not watermarked and the envelopes are unlined.

Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery

I prefer self adhesive envelopes but these ones close up just fine.

Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery

This have been one of my favorite papers for several years now.  The writing pad costs $9.50 and the envelopes are $10.99 for 25.  At less than 50 cents a sheet you can’t really go wrong with this paper.  I highly recommend it.

Fabriano Medioevalis Stationery
Medioevalis logo on the blotting page.