Moleskine is an Italian brand of notebooks. Moleskine books are typically bound in coated paper cardboard, with an elastic band to hold the notebook closed, a sewn spine that allows it to lie flat when opened, cream color paper, rounded corners, a ribbon bookmark, and an expandable pocket inside the rear cover. Among artists who used similar black notebooks were Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Henri Matisse.

Notebooks with the same features as the present Moleskine notebooks were a popular standard in 19th and 20th century Europe, handmade by small French bookbinders who supplied the stationery shops of Paris. As documented by many art collections and museums, in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, these nameless notebooks became a prominent creative tool for avant-garde artists who enjoyed drawing and writing outdoors, putting down impressions on paper, painting from life in the streets and cafés, and capturing extemporaneous scenes, ideas, and emotions.

The present Moleskine notebook is specifically fashioned after English travel writer, Bruce Chatwin’s descriptions of the notebooks he used in his travels. The name itself of ‘Moleskine’ is a nickname that Chatwin uses in one of his most celebrated writings, The Songlines (1986). In this book Chatwin tells the story of his original supplier of notebooks, a Paris stationer who in 1986 informed him that the last notebook manufacturer, a small family-run firm in Tours, had discontinued production that year, after the death of the owner. Thus ‘le vrai Moleskine n’est plus’ (‘the real Moleskine is no more.’

In 1997 a small company based in Milan named Modo & Modo SpA decided to bring this kind of notebook back to life, establishing the Moleskine trademark and starting production of Moleskine notebooks with 5000 pieces. Moleskine notebooks are now distributed in 53 countries.

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