Biella Index Cards

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Biella Index Card

Biella is a Swiss stationery company. Though 120 years old, they don’t seem to be engaged in much export activity as far as I can tell. Their one product that I’ve previously purchased is the Canteo Notebook, which we took a look at in 2009. It was a nice product – conceptually similar to Leuchtturm and Moleskine notebooks, but a step up in paper quality and design. And being sold with a pencil and metal page darts in a glassine envelope didn’t hurt.

Biella Index Card

Last year I was fortunate to be able to visit Zürich’s four story stationer Papeterie Zumstein, and came across another Biella product – their version of the index card.

I love index cards, and my favourite is the Exacompta Record Card. I have used them almost every day for over a decade!

A small detour – there was a blog titled “Pile of Index Cards” that served as an inspiration (I think it is now offline) and which recommended some very particular tools. In particular, the “Correct” brand index card from Japan. Their benefit was said to be rule placement – with a 5mm x 5mm square grid, the first vertical rule was 5mm to the right of the card’s left side, and the first horizontal rule 5mm below the card’s top side. i.e. – the grid ruling was printed to respect and match the card’s dimensions. Further, each card could be expected to match this pattern. This allowed marking the edges of cards to give them particular meaning and to visually convey basic information even before one reads the card. Years later, I can buy Japanese index cards locally. Unfortunately, even if possessing super deliberate ruling, they’re made from thin paper. In fact they seem to me to simply be small dimension pieces of paper. I do find that I like the thicker card stock of North American or European index cards.

Biella Index Card

This particular card is a small A7 size with a 4mm grey square rule. It looks great, but I noticed right away that the paper seems thinner and less smooth than the coated Exacompta. I’ll be sticking with Exacompta, but I’m glad to know that there are competitors around.

Schoollocker squared index cards

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Schoollocker squared index card

Schoollocker is an Etsy store. Etsy is a large online marketplace of hand crafted items, almost akin to Ebay, though items are not sold by auction. An offering I noticed was a quadrille/squared/gridded/graph paper index card. I love this type of index card, and can’t find any close to home.

If the Exacompta cards I mentioned last week are the fashionable boutique high end, these are the practical though dowdy department store edition.

In a 4″ x 6″ version, one side has square ruling, and the other side is blank. The ink is loud, bright, public school blue.

Schoollocker squared index card

The problem is – and these cards are not alone in this aspect – the application of the ruling is random. So the vertical line closest to the card’s left edge might be touching that edge, or it might be several millimeters away. This rules out certain uses of the card.

The paper is also a step down from the high table Exacompta. Yet – the cards are still great fun, and very usable.

This blog rarely mentions prices, but at $US5.50 for 55 cards shipped to Canada, the cheaper and higher quality Exacomptas become an easy choice.

Exacompta Squared Record Cards

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Exacompta Squared Record Cards

The name is convoluted – but that is what they are called – “Fiches Bristol”, “Record Cards”, “Fichas Bristol”, “Karteikaten”, “Steekkaarten”, or “Schede Bristol”.

Closer to home, they might be called “index cards” – but where can one find index cards like this?

Exacompta Squared Record Cards

They are made of superior paper in seven sizes (mm units):

74×105

75×125

100×150

105×148

125×200

148×210

210×297

White, and in Blue, Yellow, Pink, Green, and Orange.

Five formats: plain, ruled, squared, plain with holes, and squared with holes.

They are index card nirvana. The organizational transcendence beckons.

The cards are magnitudes higher quality than those found at ‘big box’ stores – plus in squared rule ( a.k.a. graph paper) format. They are absolutely unlike the brands many of us have had to resolve ourselves to using.

The cards are thick coated white paper (210g/m2) with purple ruling. The boxes they come in open like playing card boxes. (To me, the smaller cards seem thinner than the larger cards, but there is no documentation of this.)

Exacompta Squared Record Cards

With pencils, they are a great pair. With fountain pens, there is no feathering, no bleed through – but drying time may be more than some prefer. This is serious writing paper, in another format.

Exacompta Squared Record Cards

Overall, they are one of the best stationery items I have ever found. The creative and organizational power they offer is immense.