Back in the days, when letters were more common, red-and-blue-striped bordered envelopes filled with lightweight airmail paper were more prevalent. This airmail paper is also known as onionskin paper because of its thin and translucent properties. In addition to airmal, onionskin paper was also frequently used in typewriters because of the emphasis on low bulk.
Several months ago, I came across Gourmet Pen’s blog post on Onionskin paper. According to her post, onionskin paper is similar to Tomoe River paper but thinner and I was already sold. On top of that, she shot a video of that delectable crinkly sound and I just had to get it. Her blog post was on The Paper Mill’s onionskin paper and I considered it, but since I wanted a smaller quantity, I opted for the Life Airmail Letter Pad from Nanami Paper.
Like most Japanese products, the Life Airmail Letter Pad has a practical and clean design. There are no frills with this letter pad. The cover is a glossy cover stock with “Via Airmail” and a classic airmail envelope on top. On the bottom, you’ll find the brand, the model number, and a ‘Made in Japan’ label. The backing is a plain cardboard, nothing fancy.
On the inside, you’ll find a writing guide on top and 50 pages of the B5 (176 x 250mm or 6.9 x 9.8in) onionskin paper. The writing guide is a two-sided, portrait and landscape, 9mm line ruled guide and since the onionskin paper is like tracing paper, the guide works very well. It is also an okay thickness and I don’t doubt it’ll last the entire pad. The paper is gluebound on the top and comes off cleanly when you take it out, but is strong enough so the paper won’t come off unintentionally. Overall, the constuction of the letter pad is solid.
The writing experience on the onionskin paper is great. While it is thin, I don’t feel the need to be too careful when writing on it. It will fold or dog-ear easily, so I’m careful when moving the paper. However, I’ve written pretty hard on it without tearing the paper, so that’s my experience. The paper is very smooth and doesn’t snag your nibs, so feel free to use fountain pens or dip nibs on this paper. On top of that, it has a lot of the same fountain-pen friendly qualities as Tomoe River paper. Here is my ink test:
According to my Ink test, there is very little feathering on this paper unless it’s a Sharpie. Similar to Tomoe River paper, there is very little bleedthrough except for really saturated inks. On the other hand, bleedthrough doesn’t really matter because of the showthrough. Onionskin paper is basically like tracing paper in terms of the opacity, so showthrough is high and don’t expect to write on the other side.
Also, like Tomoe River paper, onionskin paper is very ink resistant, so inks can show off their sheen (if they have any). If you’re not familiar with sheen, basically, some inks are formulated with certain dyes that, when concentrated in place, it shines a different color than the overall it. J. Herbin’s Emerald de Chivor is one of those highly sheening inks: while the base color is a rich teal, there is a red sheen that is shown off when heavily concentrated in one place. Usually, you can only see this sheen in its full glory on Tomoe River paper. However, I am pleased to say that the onionskin paper is brilliant at showing off this sheen. The pictures don’t do it justice, but hopefully, you can see it.
Overall, if you love inky writing utensils, the Life Airmail Letter Pad’s onionskin paper will not disappoint.
All of my mail recipients loved this paper and have inquired about it. Moreover, it is great for keeping weight low and the costs of mailed down. If you goal is normal writing on paper that can handle most any writing utensils and ink, I would recomment Tomoe River or any 70lb+ paper over this because you can’t write on the other side of onionskin paper. However, if you are in themarket for a letter pad for the sole purpose of sending lightweight letters written with any of your favorite writing utensils, I highly recommend the Life Airmail Letter Pad.
Again, I bought the Life Airmail Letter Pad from Nanami Paper. You can also find it at JetPens. If you want a larger size or large quantity, The Paper Mill Store sells a ream (500 sheets) of 8.5 x 11in onionskin paper for 24.99 + shipping. Either, I highly recommend this paper. It is super fun and that crinkle is just orgasmic.