They are both beautiful, and have held up well. They're not for those who like their leather goods to look machine stamped, but for those who like a rustic, hard-working sort of cowboy/ancient times hybrid look, these are great.
A few weeks ago, Renaissance Art did an amazing thing. They basically *gave* away examples of their "passport" sized notebooks, for about the price of shipping, to get examples of their work out to anyone who was curious. They didn't request that we write reviews, though they always welcome feedback (and act on it, which is pretty awesome). I'm just excited enough to throw one out there of my own accord.
It is, like my big notebooks, beautiful, thick leather. It holds two passport sized notebooks (more on that in a moment), or a passport and a notebook, for the true travelers out there, or two passports, for the Jason Bournes out there (though if you're going to carry several at once, you may want to be careful where you leave 'em). The way it works: there's a doubled cord that runs through the middle and pulls through the decorative woven tube thingie on the side. You pull the cord back enough to loosen it, open one of your notebooks to the halfway section, and slip it under the cord. Then you pull the cord back through to tighten.
There's a video at the bottom of the product page on RA's site, if any of that didn't make sense. It works remarkably well, considering how simple it is. I'm guessing the white cord may get a little grubby with time, and over a whole LOT of time, it could wear out, but I'm guessing that won't happen anytime soon. It's sturdy stuff.
There are stitched pockets inside the front and back covers, big enough for folded receipts or business cards or other odds and ends.
It comes with one of Renaissance Art's blank notebook refills: heavy, hand torn paper with a simple linen cover. These are pretty rough around the edges because of the hand tearing, and don't have punched corners. They're also nicer (in my opinion) for writing or sketching with pencil rather than writing with fountain pen, as the standard paper (you *can* request other stuff) is pretty toothy.
I like it and will use it, but I will probably replace with my own refills after. Which brings me to a cool discovery.
When I was originally waiting for this to arrive, I had it in my head that it would be big enough to hold Field Notes and Moleskine cahiers. For some reason, that's about how big I thought "passport" meant. If I'd actually looked at my passport for two seconds, I'd have seen I was wrong, but I didn't.
When I first took this out of the envelope, I was disappointed. It's considerably shorter than a Field Notes notebook, so I figured I'd either have to order refills only from Renaissance Art, or learn to make my own refills--something I do want to do, at some point.
But then last night, it hit me: Scout Books are 3.5"x5 size! I thought just maybe that would work, and boom, yeah, they're perfect for one another! Which is awesome, really, because I really like Scout Books, and there aren't many covers out there that fit them well.
There isn't a huge amount of overhang on the cover's part, which is fine by me, but I figured I should point it out. It's just about flush.
So yeah, I got me a really beautiful little cover for carrying around a couple of Scout Books. And it's the same great leather I'd already loved, in a more fondle-able size. I may be buying more of these as gifts for other notebook lovers in my life.