Life Bank Paper is a writing paper made by the Japanese paper manufacturer Life. While you may have heard of Life paper products, their Noble Note paper is generally what most people use and is found in the premium Life notebooks. I had never heard of the Bank Paper, so when I found it I was curious as to how it would work with fountain pens. I am a big fan of their premium Noble paper, so I knew if the Bank Paper was similar I was in for a treat. Not only that, but the Bank Paper is a notepad, which makes it ideal for letter-writing.
Life Bank Paper Writing Paper
This paper comes in a pad of 100 white sheets and is approximately A5 sized (it’s slightly shorter on the long side). The sheets are glued across the top, which means you tear off each sheet of paper as needed. It also includes a piece of removable blotting paper inside the front cover. Speaking of the cover, it is extremely classy looking. It has a nice texture and the words are printed in black and outlined in gold.The paper itself is white, but not a solid white, which means you can easily see a ruled sheet underneath it. I wasn’t able to find a weight for the paper, but if I had to guess I’d say it’s around 90gsm. It looks and feels like it has a bit more texture than Life Noble paper.
Testing the Paper
To test this paper, in addition to using it for regular writing I did some standard tests. These tests included using a variety of nibs and inks to test for things like feathering, bleeding, sheen, etc. Let’s see how it performed.
Feathering, Bleeding, Ghosting
The Life Bank Paper showed absolutely no feathering in the writing samples, which is what you should expect from a quality fountain pen friendly paper. For each pen I also held the nib on the paper for up to 10 seconds, giving the paper plenty of time to pull ink from the nib and feather. None of the pens showed any sign of feathering with this test either.Not a single one of the three different pens bled through the paper. The ink smear started to bleed through and the ink splat definitely bled through, but these are extreme examples.
There was minimal ghosting from all three pens. While faint traces of the medium and flex writing were visible, it was not enough to be distracting. I would have no hesitation using both sides of this paper to write a letter.
Feel, Drying Time, Sheen
As I mentioned up above, this paper looks and feels like it has a bit of texture. When you write on it, you can feel it. If you like a bit of feedback when you write, you will probably love this paper. Even if you prefer smooth paper, you’ll probably still like it, as the texture isn’t enough to be very distracting.
The drying time for this paper is a little above average. The fine nib dried in 20 seconds, the medium in 35 seconds and the broad flex dried in 70 seconds. While ink dries faster than it does on Tomoe River, it was slower to dry than on Rhodia. If you’re using a pen that puts down a lot of ink you’ll have to be careful and watch for wet ink, but you should be able to use most medium or fine nibs without too much trouble.
Life Bank Paper does show sheen. In my writing samples, I saw sheen with the medium and flex nibs, but not with the fine nib. The splat and smear samples also showed good amounts of sheen. There isn’t as much sheen as there is on Tomoe River, but there is significantly more than on some other fountain pen friendly papers such as Rhodia.
I really enjoy writing on Life Bank Paper. It’s not perfectly smooth, so it has a bit of feedback, which I tend to enjoy in a paper. Still, it is smooth enough as to provide a very nice writing experience. It is truly a fine paper for fountain pens, as it exhibits no feathering or bleeding, and it has very little ghosting. While it does show a good amount of sheen, it is not the “sheeniest” paper around. Regardless of if you’re an avid letter writer or just want a pad of good paper for quick notes, I think you’ll be happy with a pad of Life Bank Paper. Personally, I will probably make it my go-to paper for writing letters to pen pals!
Hi, my name is John. I’m a Colorado-born professional photographer who recently moved back to Denver after spending 3 years in San Francisco. I’ve been using and collecting fountain pens for over 20 years. I got my first one in college when I got bored taking notes with ballpoints and pencils. Since then I’ve bought and sold hundreds of pens, but have consistency in my love of Esterbrooks.