So it's July now. A week or two ago America's independence day passed by in it's usual boisterous fashion. And between summer truly having arrived & it being an appropriate time for such a piece, I think it's time for me to write about another Field Notes COLORS edition.
It might not be a current release, but for various reasons that I'm about to delve into I think it's about time I review one of my very favorite sets of Field Notes books: America The Beautiful Edition.
From the first glimpse you get of these books, you can tell you're in for something special. America The Beautiful is the only Field Notes COLORS release to have photos printed on their covers, and it's absolutely the best - but not the only - standout piece of America The Beautiful's design.
The three images are each an iconic piece of Americana - one of rolling orange mesas, one of a beautiful vibrant mountain-side, and the last of a field of golden wheat against a sunset backdrop. These each going by "Spacious Skies," "Mountain Majesty," and "Amber Waves" respectively.
All three evoke a classic vibe, and are printed in the authentic 60's half-tone printing that makes the colors a little less precise and everything look just a little fuzzy. It's almost like you're looking through a slightly-soft lens into a more dreamy, romantic time in America. And maybe you are.
At the bottom of each cover is a white-strip that calls out each design's name, along with a little American-themed Field Notes glyph that is unique to each of the three books. I didn't notice until I stopped to think about it, but the white stripe at the bottom really balances out America The Beautiful's design, and without it and the little glyphs I think the edition would be worse off.
Finishing off the outside by glancing at the spine you'll also see the first appearance of copper staples on a Field Notes COLORS release. It's a small detail, but it harkens to the penny or a solid-but-worn piece of agriculture equipment from an age gone by. Another little standout design detail.
On the inside covers we'll find a red-on-white color scheme that's just as pretty as Day Game's, and we'll also get a look at another Field Notes first - the debut of the 70#T interior stock along with it's lined ruling.
America The Beautiful was the first time we saw Field Notes Brand use a thicker 70#T stock, and it appears here in a brilliant blue lined ruling. I think I've read someone comparing it to the old lined papers that one would use in elementary school, and I'll be damned if it doesn't look just like what I remember from my childhood.
Aside from the nostalgia the 70#T stock is great for writing on as well. It's a world of difference from Field Notes' original 50#T stock - and writing on it with my trusty Kaweco Liliput is both smooth and bleed-through free. I've said it before, but after getting used to the 70#T stock in America The Beautiful, Shelterwood, and other subsequent editions I honestly have a hard time using anything other than 70#T. It's just that good.
Now, if you read my canonical Field Notes COLORS ranking a couple months ago you'll know that I put America the Beautiful as my #2 favorite. And aside from the overall beautiful design & way-usable stock there are a few more reasons I'd cite for why that is.
From a purely visual sense I find myself enjoying the subtle details of how America The Beautiful ages as it's used. Where a normal Field Notes book would just crinkle a bit America The Beautiful creases to white - it's photo covers having been printed atop white paper. The copper staples that adorn the side also get just a touch of patina to them over time, which can only add to the feeling you get when you look at a well-loved & used book.
All those visual details that I've come to appreciate, and the pure usability of that 70#T paper stock are both well and good - but they're merely contributors to what's probably my favorite part of America The Beautiful - the feeling it evokes.
It's nothing I can completely quantify, but America The Beautiful stands out to me as one of the most special editions that Field Notes Brand has ever put out. The design harkens back to a bygone era of more romantic American design, it stands out from every other COLORS release beside it, and it embodies everything Field Notes stands for more than any other edition to date.
It's Americana, it's retro, it's stylish, it's authentic, it's durable, it's way-useable, and it all comes together in a package that anyone could afford to pick up and use. If that doesn't scream "FIELD NOTES" in a brilliant fireworks display, then I don't know what does.
As of this summer I'm just starting my second America The Beautiful book - the "Mountain Majesty" one - and I'm loving how it fits in with the warm weather, Fourth of July festivities, and classic cars that all make their yearly appearances around this time. There couldn't be a more perfect pairing.
The only downside to using a book like this is that I might have a hard time obtaining more in the future. But using America The Beautiful again has made me realize just how special it is - and so I'm determined to hunt down more on eBay so that come next June or July I can enjoy yet another book without it being my last one.
Who knows, maybe I'll make it a proper tradition.