Behind the Cover: The Fascinating Historical Tale of Moleskine Journals

Behind the Cover: The Fascinating Historical Tale of Moleskine Journals

November 13, 2023

Behind the Cover: The Fascinating Historical Tale of Moleskine Journals

Who doesn't love the sensation of opening a fresh, untouched Moleskine notebook? 

For dreamers, thinkers, planners, and creators, it's one of life's simple pleasures. This iconic brand's hallmark black notebook has played a vital role in its history, contributing significantly to its legendary status. 

However, the story of Moleskine goes far beyond its staple product, weaving an intricate tale of heritage, creativity, and global appeal.

Behind the Cover: The Fascinating Historical Tale of Moleskine Journals

Origins: From Parisian Studios to the Hands of Legends

The history of Moleskine journals begins in the 19th-century streets of Paris, known for their artistic vibrancy and intellectual prowess. 

Pocket-sized notebooks or 'carnets', bound with leather or oilskin, were sold by local stationers. 
These notebooks found their way into the hands of legendary artists and authors like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Hemingway, becoming their trusted companions for jotting down thoughts, sketches, and ideas.
The genesis of the Moleskine name can be attributed to British writer and notebook aficionado Bruce Chatwin. In his 1987 book, The Songlines, Chatwin fondly described his 'Paris' notebooks as 'carnets Moleskines', with 'Moleskine' referring to the black oilcloth binding.

A New Chapter: Moleskine's Rebirth

In 1994, Maria Sebregondi, working with the Italian design company Modo & Modo, was tasked with creating products for a new generation of travellers eager to explore the post-Cold War era's newfound freedom. 
She proposed recreating the beloved notebooks she had bought in Paris in the early '80s. Thus, the Moleskine we know today was born.
The name 'Moleskine', with its French origins and associations with heritage, utility and urban poetry, was a perfect fit. It was trademarked in 1996, with the first notebooks produced the following year.

The Moleskine Hero Product

Moleskine's hero product, the simple black notebook with rounded corners, a ribbon bookmark, an elastic page holder, and an expandable rear pocket, became an instant hit. Unchanged to this day, these notebooks remain the company's best-sellers.

The Magic of Moleskine

Interestingly, the first batch of Moleskine notebooks was sold in a Milan bookshop instead of a stationery store. This strategic move linked the Moleskine brand to a lifestyle centred on knowledge, culture, and travel. The Moleskine notebook was no longer a mere notebook but a canvas for creativity, a keepsake for thoughts, ideas and sketches.

Aspiration and Imagination

Moleskine built its brand on intelligence, flair, and attention to detail. The emphasis has always been on aspiration and lifestyle, creating objects synonymous with "culture, imagination, memory, travel, and personal identity." Over the years, the brand has amassed a dedicated following, including celebrities like architect Renzo Piano, designer Ron Arad, and entrepreneur Deborah Meaden.

Evolving and Expanding

Once established, Moleskine embarked on collaborations with other legendary names like Lego, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Marvel. Keeping pace with consumer trends, the brand expanded its product line to include planners, diaries, pens, journals, sketchbooks, bags, and intelligent tools.

Capturing the Corporate Cosmos

Moleskine's appeal extended beyond creatives and notebook enthusiasts, capturing the corporate world. The ability to customise Moleskine notebooks offered businesses a stylish, creative, and imaginative way to promote themselves. Branded Moleskine notebooks became perfect settings for company logos and marketing messages, aligning corporate branding with quality and prestige.

A Matter of Pronunciation

Pronunciation can be a point of contention. Is it mole skin, mole-eh-skeen, or mole-eh-skeen-eh? The brand itself says anything goes, making it a fun point of discussion amongst fans.


Not Just About the Cover

Despite the name, Moleskine notebooks are not made from moleskin or leather but from polypropylene, a material commonly used in book coverings. They have been declared PVC-free and comply with California Proposition 65, reflecting their commitment to safety and environmental sustainability.
Suppose you are looking for a way to add elegance and durability to your Moleskine journals. Consider the LEATHER BOUND MOLESKINE CAHIER. This product is a handcrafted leather cover that fits perfectly over the iconic pocket-sized Moleskine Cahier notebook. The leather cover is made from high-quality leather that ages beautifully over time. 
It is a luxurious, handmade leather binding designed to complement the iconic Pocket Moleskine Cahier Notebook. 
Available in three sizes—Pocket (10 x 15cm), Large (14 x 22cm), and Extra Large (20.5 x 26cm)—this binding is refillable and can be customised with plain, lined, or squared paper options.
Crafted from Italian full-grain leather, the notebook retains the natural imperfections of the hide, such as scars and blemishes, making each piece unique to its owner. The leather binding also includes a grosgrain ribbon to serve as a placekeeper.
Your first purchase comes with the leather binding and three refills, adding to the product's value. Moreover, customers can enjoy complimentary personalisation to add a personal touch to their notebooks, as well as complimentary standard shipping within the UK.
For those interested in further customisation, there is information available about bespoke personalisation. Tanner Bates emphasises the uniqueness of each product, as the full-grain leather means that each skin surface retains its original character without any buffing, celebrating the natural and individual history of the hide.
The tale of the Moleskine notebook is not just about a product; it's a story of heritage, creativity, and global recognition. It has transformed from a simple notebook to a symbol of culture, imagination, and identity. It continues to inspire and accompany a diverse set of individuals, from artists and intellectuals to business professionals and everyday dreamers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moleskine Journal:


What is unique about Moleskine journals? 

Moleskine journals are unique because they are inspired by the notebooks used by famous artists and writers, such as Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin. They have a classic and elegant design, with a hard or soft cover, rounded corners, an elastic closure, a ribbon bookmark, and an expandable inner pocket. They also have high-quality paper that is acid-free and suitable for different writing and drawing tools.  

Why is Moleskine so famous? 

Moleskine is so famous because it has a long and rich history that dates back to the 19th and 20th centuries when it was the preferred notebook of many creative and intellectual figures. 

What makes Moleskine unique? 

Moleskine is particular because it is more than just a notebook; it is a lifestyle companion that helps people capture and express their thoughts, ideas, and creativity. Moleskine is particular because it offers a unique blend of tradition and innovation, quality and style, functionality and aesthetics.

What is the meaning of Moleskine? 

Moleskine is a word that has two different meanings. One meaning is the mole's skin is used as fur, also spelt as moleskin. The other meaning is the name of an Italian brand of notebooks, which is also spelt as Moleskine. 
The name Moleskine comes from the word "Moleskine", which was used by the British writer Bruce Chatwin to describe the black oilskin-covered notebooks that he bought in Paris and used for his travel notes. Chatwin called them "moleskines" because he thought they resembled the fur of a mole. 

What are the advantages of Moleskine notebooks? 

Moleskine notebooks have several advantages, such as:
  • They are durable and reliable, with solid covers, sewn bindings, and thick paper that can withstand wear and tear.
  • They are portable and convenient, with a pocket-sized format that can fit any bag or purse and an elastic band that keeps them closed and secure.
  • They are customisable and personal, with different types of paper, colours, and themes to suit different tastes and purposes, and a blank space on the first page to write your name and contact information.

What is the difference between Field Notes and Moleskine? 

Field Notes and Moleskine are two popular brands of pocket-sized notebooks, but they have some differences. Field Notes have a soft cardboard cover, while Moleskine has a variety of hardbound or soft leather-like cover.
Also, Field Notes has a simple and minimalist design, with a plain cover and a logo on the front, while Moleskine has a more sophisticated and elegant design, with a range of cover colours and a discreetly embossed logo on the back.

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