The actual condition looks worse than it did on eBay, but we’ll see what some restoration and patience will do. It will be difficult to restore to proper use as the inside is lined with a what seems like a vinyl-type layer which as gone completely hard. The covers feel brittle and would probably snap if bent. Leather cleaner then leather restorer, followed by a long soak in some leather polish may bring back some of the flexibility but I think it may remain a museum piece, not one to be used, sadly.
It is embossed on the front cover with RADIO LOG in gold leaf, and the owner’s name on the bottom, G.F. Arndt. From the 1928 catalogue inside, it looks like these subject-specific Lefax binders all came with the titles embossed in gold, even the “Family Budgets Made Easy”. Looking inside, you can see the mechanism is quite badly rusted and I’m not going to attempt to open the rings until the leather is more supple, in case it damages the covers.
The first page shows the “Lefax Radio Log” for December 1928. It even has the Dewey Classification system number for it: R531.2
The inserts seem to be monthly, and cost a whole 25 cents each, or a whopping $2 for a year’s subscription.
Or if you paid $3.50, you got the “Genuine Morocco Leather “binder included., with “your name in gold”. If only they were that cheap today.
The 1928 Calendar is also included at the back.
As personal telecommunications were not as sophisticated as today, it even came with a pre-formatted, blank Western Union Telegram, just in case you were out of radio contact or were away from home, and desperately needed to send an urgent message.
An explanation of the Lefax system is included, together with a very comprehensive catalogue of every insert available in 1928.
Inside the rear cover, there is a clearly legible imprint of the Binder Code number, and the fact that it was made in Philadelphia.
The binder itself was bone dry and very brittle, and it was crying out for the Nivea treatment. I bought a large tin of the original hand crème in the blue tin, and applied an amount that would make most people cringe. Bearing in mind this binder was over 80 years old, it was in desperate need of being moisturised. Here is a photo of the new tin, after I finished applying the coating.
And here is what it looked like immediately after the application of copious amounts of Nivea.
I placed the binder, covered in Nivea, into a Ziploc sealed plastic bag and left it in there for 5 days, sitting on the windowsill soaking up the warmth of the Dubai sun. After 5 days, I opened the bag and removed the binder. Notice how much less Nivea there is on the leather now and hardly any of it was transferred to the bag. Most of it has already soaked in.
Time to get the lint-free polishing cloth out. It took 20 minutes to remove the excess Nivea, and then to gently rub in the remaining coating. Before the Nivea treatment, it was brittle, and would have snapped in two if I had tried flexing the covers. After 5 days of a Nivea bath, the covers were once more flexible, and pliable. Here is the finished result.
The Nivea bath did reveal some damage to the spine, and made it more noticeable, but at least now the binder can be handled without fear of it snapping in two.
Next job is to clean the metal ring mechanisms and to remove the worst of the rust. This binder was sold on eBay around the same time as a 1930s Mathematics binder which was also bought by another Philofaxer, so hopefully we will see a guest post on that one too.