The sketchbook of
Vincent van Gogh (circa 1888–1890)
Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam
I love this notebook.
It's a ... Moleskin, which is, as the website says, "that legendary notebook used by european artists and thinkers for the past 200 years."
(People feel strongly about their notebooks, so not everyone will agree but I believe The Moleskin to be the absolutely supreme notebooks among notebooks.)
They come in all sorts and everyone has a favorite. Mine's the squared one (you don't have to try and stay inside the lines); the hard cover; and small as above. It has a pocket inside (for stray cuttings and things), and most important of all: a place to write your name and address where you can be contacted for the huge reward you offer if it's lost. Plus what about the excellent elastic to keep it shut? (You can sneak a pencil inside.)
I carry my moleskin everywhere I go because you never know. Plus I think it's like saying you're ready--so you won't miss it when it comes--whatever it is--inspiration, an idea, overhearing something on the street, seeing something you have to sketch... having a notebook at the ready at all times is like having a camera on you; it lets you capture things you'd otherwise forget. Or maybe even miss altogether.
So which came first, the notebook or the idea?