In light of my friend’s collecting beliefs, I have devised a guide to collecting Field Notes Colors limited edition memo books. Collecting all the Colors limited edition memo books is no small feat and will prove to be an enduring adventure.

Background

Field Notes Brand offers a nostalgic, American-crafted, agricultural-style memo book in different colors and printing processes. These memo books shine with personality, from the very first limited edition books in the winter of 2008 to the latest Cold Horizon edition in winter of 2013.

Field Notes Brand sells Colors subscription packages whereby a subscriber receives two three-packs of the newest limited edition Field Notes books every three months. These subscriptions have been offered for five years and Field Notes Brand does not reprint sold out editions. So, due to the nostalgia and brimming personality of Field Notes Colors memo books, the earliest editions have become very rare.

The Field Notes website outlines the 21 different Colors editions that have been printed since 2008. The page also shows the number of books that were printed; the most recent editions were printed 60,000 times, while the original Butcher Orange and Butcher Blue editions were printed a mere 1,500 times.

Here is a list of the 21 Colors editions that must be acquired:

  1. Winter 2008/2009: “Butcher Orange”
    • 1,500 books printed
  2. Spring 2009: “Butcher Extra Blue”
    • 1,500 books printed
  3. Summer 2009: “Grass Stain Green”
    • 5,000 books printed
  4. Fall 2009: “Mackinaw Autumn”
    • 7,500 books printed
  5. Winter 2009/2010: “Just Below Zero”
    • 9,000 books printed
  6. Spring 2010: “Packet of Sunshine”
    • 12,000 books printed
    • Included small bag of marigold seeds
    • Included card with growing instructions
  7. Summer 2010: “County Fair”
    • Number of books printed is difficult to determine
    • Different covers printed for each American state
    • Still available through Field Notes Brand Online Store
  8. Fall 2010: “Raven’s Wing”
    • 15,000 books printed
  9. Winter 2010: “Balsam Fir”
    • 10,500 books printed
  10. Spring 2011: “Dry Transfer”
    • 15,000 books printed
    • Included a dry transfer kit to allow customization of front cover
  11. Summer 2011: “American Tradesman”
    • 15,000 books printed
    • Included a red Field Notes carpenter’s pencil
    • Included a Field Notes Workshop Reference Card giving instructions on how to sharpen pencil
  12. Fall 2011: “Fire Spotter”[1]
    • 12,000 books printed
    • Included a custom temporary tattoo
  13. Winter 2011: “Northerly”
    • 18,000 books printed
  14. Spring 2012: “National Crop”
    • 7,500 boxes printed
    • 6 different colors included in boxes
    • Included a reference poster outlining where these crops are grown in the United States
    • Included a “Crop Edition” patch
  15. Summer 2012: “Day Game”
  16. Fall 2012: “Traveling Salesman”
    • 24,000 ledger books printed
    • Included an official button
  17. Winter 2012: “Expedition”
    • 60,000 books printed
    • Still available through Field Notes Brand Online Store
  18. Spring 2013: “America the Beautiful”
    • 45,000 books printed
    • Included a water-transfer decal
  19. Summer 2013: “Night Sky”
    • 45,000 books printed
  20. Fall 2013: “Drink Local”
    • 30,000 “Ales” books printed
    • 30,000 “Lagers” books printed
    • Included two letterpressed coasters
    • Subscribers received a chipboard “6-Pack Carrier”
    • “Lagers” editions are still available through Field Notes Brand Online Store
  21. Winter 2013: “Cold Horizon”
    • 60,000 books printed
  22. Spring 2014: “Shelterwood”
    • 75,000 books printed

The following is a handy Colors chart to make sure you get them all.


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Also, here is a graph to show the numbers of printed books sorted by edition. Evidently, the oldest editions will definitely be the hardest to find. “County Fair” has been left out due to it not having a specific printed quantity.


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Step 1: Field Notes Shop

The most cost effective method of acquiring Colors limited edition books is by purchasing from the Field Notes Brand online store. To guarantee the acquisition of future limited editions, a subscription is necessary. $97 provides a subscriber with two three-packs of Colors books every three months. Occasionally, other goodies accompany subscription packages. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, a subscription is your first step.

Second, Field Notes Brand sells a few Colors editions beyond just the current edition. You can currently purchase the Fall 2013 Drink Local: Lager edition as well as the Winter 2012 Expedition Edition.[2] Further, a boxed set of all 50 County Fair books can be purchased through the Online Store. This will be the most cost effective and efficient way to acquire all 50 County Fair editions.

Step 2: Retail Stores

Once all editions have been purchased in a mint-state from the Online Store, I recommend scouring local retail stores for past, unsold Colors editions. I personally have a difficult time getting to local retail stores as the closest store is 150 kilometers from where I live. The closest store after that is almost 600 kilometers away.

To my Canadian readers: If you find yourself in Calgary, Toronto or Vancouver, don’t hesitate to venture through the multitude of retail shops that carry Field Notes books.

To my American readers: there are many retails shops along the East and West Coasts that may carry Colors editions which are not available on the Field Notes Online Store. The Chicago region also has many locations to check out.

To my international readers: There appears to be many retail locations in England and mainland Europe to walk through. There are at least 34 retail locations in Japan and at least 13 retail locations in Australia. If you live in Singapore, you can visit as many as 9 retail locations and there are a few stores in South Africa.

To see the closest retail locations offering Field Notes memo books, see their “Retail Locations” page.

Step 3: eBay

One of the most expensive methods to obtain Field Notes Colors editions is through eBay. Prices can be volatile and the quality of your purchase will always be in question. However, through my research over the last few weeks, I’ve found the majority of the editions listed above on eBay’s shelves at one point or another.

Unbelievably, I happened to stumble upon an extremely rare Butcher Extra Blue three-pack still in its shrinkwrap.[3] The price when I viewed the eBay listing was $60 USD, which actually seems fairly reasonable. Other listings have labelled themselves as “Starter Collector’s Kits” that have the last six editions for $330 USD.

Step 4: Field Notes Facebook Page and Trading

As Jim Coudal alluded to in the Field Notes 2009 Colors Recap video, the Field Notes Facebook page can be used to interact with other Field Notes lovers. This Facebook page has been used to create trading transactions between Field Notes collectors and allows for an effective method of trading your extra Colors editions in exchange for editions you don’t have.

Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict was lucky enough to be approached via a different social network.[4] If you make it known that you are looking to collect Field Notes Colors, the chances others approach you to trade is increased. A great example of outlining your collection can be seen here and here.

Trading editions appears to be the most common way to complete a Colors collection. I’m afraid of this step myself as dealing with strangers is never a perfect experience. However, the good news is that all Field Notes collectors have the same goal in mind.

Step 5: Field Nuts

Thanks to Greg Lynch, my eyes have been opened. An excellent forum for Field Notes traders is available at Field Nuts. There is an extensive thread on trades and potential exchanges between Field Notes collectors and there is a growing thread on Field Notes photos.[5]

There is a wealth of information in the Field Nuts forums that extend beyond collections as well. If you are ever in need of inspiration or if you have come up with a clever hack using your Field Notes books, the Field Nuts forum is a great place to show off your work.

Wrap Up

My collection is tiny in comparison to Myke Hurley’s Field Notes collection. I’ve come a bit late to the party and I’m sure I will face an uphill battle in acquiring the necessary Colors editions.

There are many, many special editions of Field Notes books that have been created for promotional reasons or for special events. I’ve limited this guide to the Colors editions solely because they are the easiest to research and the easiest to verify.

If you have Field Notes Colors editions that you are looking to sell or to trade, let me know and leave a comment below. Like I said earlier, a community of fellow collectors all have the same goal in mind. Let’s work together to achieve some of those goals.

Also, if there are other avenues to acquire Colors limited editions, please let me know so I can update this guide. When researching the best ways to collect these memo books, I never found a simple guide with pertinent information. This is my attempt to help other collectors in their pursuit and I want to keep this as up-to-date as possible.

Happy hunting!


  1. Not to be confused with the “Red Blooded” edition which was printed afterwards and does not include the letterpressed logo on the back cover.  ↩

  2. Don’t get trapped into thinking the Pitch Black edition is the same as the Summer 2013 Night Sky edition or the Fall 2010 Raven’s Wing edition. I fell into this trap when traipsing through a local retail store and came home disappointed upon my discovery.  ↩

  3. Jim Coudal stated this was the rarest version of Field Notes Colors limited editions in the 2009 Colors Recap Film.  ↩

  4. Check out a great Field Notes podcast by Brad Dowdy here. In the podcast, Brad discusses the increasing obsession with collecting Field Notes books.  ↩

  5. There is also a fantastic collection of Field Notes photos at the Field Notes in the Field Tumblr page.  ↩