Review of Gallery Leather Oporto Journal.


Gallery Leather contacted HQ a few weeks ago asking us if we’d review one of their made-in-maine leather journals. We received the Oporto Journal free of charge, and here is the skinny. Gallery’s description:

Modern Italian design in a journal constructed true to Old World book making tradition. Flush-cut, supported bonded leather cover.

I think there’s much more to say than that, especially with the very graphite-friendly paper in this book.


This is a Desk Journal. I don’t know why, but I really like the idea of a desk journal, a ledger or book for sitting at one’s desk. For this purpose, this notebook is great. It measures 8×5.5 inches, with 192 lined pages. The lines are spaced at 1/4 of an inch, which is identical to the Field Notes Shelterwood. The lines feel less wide than they do in the Shelterwood, though, since they are spread over a larger area with the increased page size.


The binding on this book is solid. Upon opening the book for the first time, both the leather and the binding were stiff. However, with time spent with this book for review purposes, it’s softened and loosened up nicely. I imagine that a week of desk use would render this book able to open fairly flatly.


The leather is smooth, with a subtle texture and sheen. It smells great, but is not over-powering, and the raw/rough edges are a very nice touch (and keep the book more flexible). The spine is especially attractive, with a nice semi-boxed shape that neither sits too loosely nor refuses to budge for opening the book.


My favorite thing about this book is the paper. It’s got a tooth that makes using harder pencils not only possible, but enjoyable. Certainly, this paper is not rough, and I imagine that pens that don’t like rough paper would work well. But the tooth does have certain consequences.


Pencils which are as soft as the 2010 Palomino Blackwing* are out of the question, unless you like a smeary mess in your journal. Middling darkness HB pencils performed well, as did high-end but relatively dark Japanese HB pencils like the Hi-Uni and Mono 100. Some German HB pencils which I love but which are unloved by smooth papers (like Field Notes’ regular paper) were a true pleasure on this paper, producing a distinct line and showing great smear resistance. In general, I found this paper to be a little on the messier side in smearability, but erasability was excellent. Castell 9000 and Mars Lumograph HB pencils are dreamy on this paper, and I had good luck with the Grip 2001 also. Because the paper is stiff (not necessarily thick), ghosting is very good with this paper. The German HB pencils I used retained much of their point retention, smoothness and smear resistance, while appearing much more darkly on the page.

If you’re on the lookout for a nice Sitting Still Journal, take a hard-but-smooth HB pencil with this book, and journal to your heart’s content.

* I think they should adopt this coinage of mine and send me a dozen to boot, don’t you?

4 thoughts on “Review of Gallery Leather Oporto Journal.”

  1. I love Gallery “leather” books. I put leather in quotation marks because they use a particle leather product, where the leather is ground up into bits and pieces, formed into a sheet and then the top surface is pressed and colored into whatever color they want. The other side is covered in pressure sensitive glue. That is not to say that I think that their products are no good. In fact, I think their stuff is awesome.

    I’ve met a bunch of their staff (worked with their kids when I worked at Trenton Elementary School) and they are good people. Gallery Leather is one of those places that started in Maine and has stayed in Maine. I appreciate that a lot.

    But their leather is most like a cotton/poly blend than what I consider real leather.

    1. I miss those Goodkind Pens that were made in Maine. They were recycled wood, with vegetable-based ballpoint ink. They moved to the upper Midwest, I think — if they are still even around.

      1. I believe they also made a style called the “woodie” with laser engraved touristy things. I was gifted one with “MAINE” engraved into it. I couldn’t find a refill so I used a drill bit to install BIC stic guts. It works pretty well.

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