HIGHTIDE from Japan has been creating fun and fabulous stationery since 1994. Their colourful and affordable range has hints of retro nostalgia, notes of elegant design and a touch of playfulness to the creations.

It’s a fairly new range to Milligram, added in 2016. So to see how the paper in the latest HIGHTIDE Penco Foolscap notebook performed, we decided to try out a number of pens to see if it delivered.

Hightide Penco notebook

HIGHTDIDE ‘Penco’ Foolscap Notebook Review

Review: Aesthetics

There is a little bit of an ‘old fashioned’ feel to the cover and binding on this notebook. This is a simple soft-cover card notebook with rounded edges and 60 pages (30 sheets) of fountain pen-friendly, high-quality paper in a ruled format that provides writers the room to record their never-ending ideas.

The cover has a ruled line to label the notebook, a black taped margin that appears across 2cm of the front cover and 0.6cm of the back. Three-quarters down on the front cover is stamped gold foiling that reads: B5 – 30 sheets. There is also a second yellow tape measuring 4.5cm that sits horizontally across the front and back cover (measuring 2.2cm [front] and 1.2cm [back] respectively), which seems to serve no other purpose than an aesthetic one.

The front cover has a rectangular border in a bold and fine line with a purple colouring. Above the border reads the ‘Penco’ logo with a registered symbol. Within the border in the same purple font reads NOTEBOOK, the Penco trademarked symbol reading: Quality and Quantity; and additional copy: CONTAINING BEST RULED FOOLSCAP. Below the border reads: MADE IN TOKYO.

The background is a light grey with spicks and specks of darker grey textured print that follows through to the back cover.

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The cover is soft to touch and the taped margin provides an additional texture that provides additional comfort and reassurance in its stability. While this notebook is titled Foolscap, it’s not the foolscap folio size of 21.6 x 34.3cm; but is instead B5, measuring in at 17.8 (w) x 25.2cm (l). Perhaps this reflects the tendency of some international brands to use English a little loosely.

Review: Looking Inside

This Penco Foolscap notebook is sewn and glue-bound.


The first page includes an Index page on pale green paper (difficult to capture the colour in the photograph below) that has room for a Title, Issue Number and a column for Index and Contents. The Penco logo is watermarked in the background.


Following the index, each subsequent page has a bold blue line at the top and bottom while the other lines are a light grey. Line spacing is 7mm, the top margin is 16mm and the bottom margin is 12mm. There are 26 lines per page.

This notebook would be ideal for students or those who like to keep their notes organised for work.

I particularly like how this notebook lies flat when it’s opened.


Review: Pen Performance

I tested this HIGHTIDE Penco Foolscap with several pen and ink combinations, including fountain pens with different nibs. It performed really well for all of the combinations, with no feathering and minimal show-through on the back. So it’s definitely a fountain pen friendly notebook. (I am actually a regular rollerball pen user so this notebook suits me just fine, but it’s always great to know my fountain pen will also perform well.)


Pens tested:

– LAMY Safari Medium nib with LAMY T10 blue cartridge

– Kaweco Skyline Medium nib with Kaweco blue-black cartridge

– Pilot Kakuno Fine nib with Pilot black cartridge

– Platinum Preppy Medium nib (0.5) with Preppy black cartridge

– LAMY Joy Italic nib with LAMY blue-black cartridge

– Uniball fine liner Fine nib with blue ink

– Moleskine rollerball Medium nib with black ink


Hightide Penco test

Minimal show-through on reverse page:
Hightide Penco

It felt quite nice to write across the paper, and I didn’t experience any smudging while writing or notice any feathering.

My favourites from this writing test would be the LAMY Safari with a medium nib and the Kaweco Skyline with a medium nib; both of them wrote flawlessly across the page. The Pilot Kakuno with a fine nib felt a little bit scratchy but this could also be my preference for wider nibs.

I was taken aback by the Platinum Preppy fountain pen, it had a medium nib but had quite a heavy ink flow, in saying that I did like the way it glided across the page. I wouldn’t use the LAMY Joy for every day writing in this notebook, as it is intended for calligraphy and would work better on plain paper as opposed to the confinements of ruled paper. The Uniball fine liner wrote as expected — read a separate review on how Uniball pens write. And of course, my trusty and reliable Moleskine rollerball pen glides across the page as I would expect from one of my favourite pens.

Review: Drying times

I tested a few of the ‘inkier’ pens to check their drying times with this pen/ink/paper combination.The best performers were the LAMY and the Kaweco.

The LAMY Joy is predominantly used as a calligraphy pen, so probably not the best choice for this notebook.

Hightide Penco
There is slight show-through from the inkier pens.

Summary: HIGHTIDE Penco Foolscap Notebook

This is an excellent notebook option for those who want a notebook that’s fountain pen friendly and still affordable at $7.95. It’s a great student option.

The cover is smooth to touch and thin enough to fit in your bag for school, work or travel. This Foolscap style also comes in a medium and pocket size.


– Extremely affordable. This B5 notebook is only $7.95.

– Fountain pen friendly – coped well with many pen and ink combinations.

– Very minimal show-through.

– Feels amazing with added texture from the taped margin.

– Variety of sizes within the range.


– Drying time lagged a little with inkier fountain pens.

Shop full HIGHTIDE range at Milligram.