Thoughts on the medium Mia Cara from Gillio
A while ago I suspended my better judgement and ordered a medium Mia Cara in Epoca Gold from Gillio. I had a few minor quibbles with the item originally sent to me1, but Gillio happily indulged me and let me have it exchanged. This is my eighth binder from Gillio, although only six are still in my possession.
This binder is large (of course), but not ridiculously so. I only ever think about it when I place it next to a more conventional binder in personal size. I actually do not need all the additional storage, but all that leather gives me a warm and luxurious feeling. While my A5 Mia Cara is too floppy to be used away from a desk (not even my lap is sufficient), this medium sized one can actually be held open with one hand. As a matter of fact, it does not open completely flat—at least not straight out of the box. The pen compartment works surprisingly well with my favorite binder pen, a Pilot Capless Décimo.
The leather on this binder looks and feels exactly like the one on the medium Compagna I owned briefly. When I compare it to my original 2012 medium Compagna, my 2013 slim Compagna or my A5 Compagna (all in Epocha Gold), it feels thicker, squishier and more waxy to the touch. It is also a little lighter and more uniform in color. To my surprise, I found it remarkably resistant to scratching and marking.
I understand that leather differ from batch to batch and I’ve seen indications of some batches to be more sought after than others, like the batch of gold Compagnas shipped with a leather pull-tag. I wonder if this is a real difference, or if it is a result of comparing new leathers to aged leathers. It might of course also be a psychological scarcity effect, where a limited supply of a particular batch in combination with the opinions of a few increases the perceived value of it among all of us. I believe the difference is real, however. It becomes really obvious when I compare this binder to my older ones. I wonder if this change in leather is a conscious decision on Gillo’s part, or if it simply is one of these things in life that just happen.
The popper on the outer jacket of this binder is higher in profile than on my older binders, which in combination with softer leather makes it lift a little at the edges when I open it. The rings are ok, but show the slightest of gaps in two places. I wonder what make of rings Gillio uses these days. Something other than Krause, I presume.
I’m so happy to see that the closure strap was constructed as on my original medium Compagna, with a thinner piece of leather folded over and sown to a second thin piece of leather. I never quite liked the version with two leather straps sown together and finished with leather gum.
This binder needs page (sheet) lifters to work, which is not the case with any of my previous binders, not even my A5 Mia Cara. This seems to be a compounding effect of the construction (two pieces of leather moving against each other), the size and the finish of the leather. I could not find any page lifter for personal-size binders to purchase, so I bought a cheap plastic binder and cut my own2. They work like magic.
It had a minor mark and a popper where the top plate was not firmly attached. I was assured these issues were all considered within the boundaries of normal, but I know myself well enough to see that they would be like small splinters in my mind, festering and eventually turning into putrid boils. ↩
I bought a binder with frosted translucent plastic of approximately one millimeter thickness. The plastic was not quite flat, so I used the slight curvature in my favor, making the lifter arch slightly from the rings and out towards the opposite edge. My Rapesco punch was strong enough to handle the plastic. Ideally, the holes should be bigger, but they seem to work well enough. ↩