03 April 2013

Vintage Filofax organisers are the best.....

'All Vintage Filofax organisers are the best......' 'They were all leather and luxury'

Were they all the same?

The idea for this post came from Laurie's FFAF, about the Filofax range of old.... was it all luxury items? We only hear about those ones we still love to this day. The Winchester is I think one of the most popular older models, but what about the others... yes there were some non-leather models, these had model numbers such as 2VR 7/8. We don't see so many of those models these days, most probably in the back of office drawers long forgotten.

Go up the model range a little bit to the 2CLF 7/8 and this has a leather exterior, but part of the interior is plastic...  the leather has a deeper gain pattern too. Then the Winchester or 4CLF 7/8 (the 7/8 indicates the ring size in inches) this is all leather.

So here are some pictures to compare the two.


The 2CLF is on the left, with my Winchester is on the right, from the outside you might think they are the same model.


Open them up and you will see a difference. The 2CLF just has simple pockets in the front and back covers, The pocket with 'Ali' on it is in leather, but the material covering the rear of the outer cover is PVC or a thin plastic.


The interior of the pockets on the Winchester (4CLF) is in a textile material, no different to a modern day Finsbury. But the flaps on the pockets which also act as protection for the rings is leather.

Neither model has credit card slots, credit cards as we know them became very common in the 1970s although they have been around a lot longer than that of course. So why the Filofax designers left them out I don't know.

Both of them use the same ring mechanism, so no reduction in quality there.



Looking at the back you can see that the clasp attachment to the main body is the same. The lower picture is the 2CLF also characterised by the deeper grain pattern.

Both organisers where bought in the mid 1980's may be 9-10 months apart, the 2CLF is the 'newer' one of the two!

So in answer to Laurie's question, yes they did make 'cheaper' models back in the early days, and in a way the differentiation between the price ranges and their construction isn't that different to the model ranges we see today. 

If anyone of influence at Filofax is reading this then I'm sure there are plenty of 'enthusiasts' who would love to be able to buy a new Winchester.... or similar... 'Hint hint' !!!!

43 comments:

  1. I absolutely love my Winchester. Hands down the best money I've spent on any kind of planner. Unmatched style and unmatched quality.

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  2. Steve,
    Would your 'hint, hint' perhaps indicate that there is still a leather binder in the Filofax line-up that we haven't seen yet?

    Josh,
    Did you buy your Winchester brand new, when they were first made, or have you purchased it second hand?

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    1. I couldn't possibly comment... But yes I did buy my Winchester new back in 1985

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    2. Oh no, I bought mine just last year off ebay. But, was brand new, in its original sleve and filled with original inserts. Quite expensive but worth every penny!

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    3. I bought my Winchester back in 1985, still going strong, in my bag off to work every day.

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  3. How old is the Cavendish? I have just acquired a near new one and the quality and 30mm rings are amazing!

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  4. I started Filofaxing with a Buckingham bought in 1987 and a Winchester of 1990, both of great material quality and excellent craftsmanship. Today's Filos don't reach this quality.

    During the legendary 9-Euro-campaign in Germany I bought two newer Filos but they were so poor I had to sell them via eBay (64 and 73 Euro).

    What I use today is a Chronoplan Midi which has an equivalent quality to match the early Filos. I still prefer it to my iPad mini which synchronises my addresses with my Mac but is the better choice for task and time management.

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    1. It would be an interesting question to ask Filofax. What would be the cost of a Winchester today.

      I don't know what I paid for mine back in the 1980's but given inflation I would think it might be several hundred pounds. Looking at competitors products, I would guess about £300 to £350. In other words what Mulberry charges for it's Agenda range.

      Ignoring the Temperleys there aren't anything in the Filofax model range in that price range, so I don't think we can really compare today's models with the ones dating back to the 1980's

      May be if you allow for cheaper production costs of sending production abroad it reduces the cost, but by how much I honestly don't know, but I suspect it is still going to be more expensive than say an Osterley or a Regency.

      Any thoughts anyone?

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    2. Steve - I must take issue with your memory (mine too!) and also the potential for selling over-priced organisers today! A top of the range (4CLF Winchester) Filofax in 1985 was £40 in the UK. At 2013 prices that's still only £102! Would there really be a significant market for selling a modern-day version at £350? I think not!

      A comparison with Mulberry is unrealistic. You are paying for the brand name and, in the real word, the Filofax brand no longer commands the same sort of respect. Indeed, even Mulberry are having to reflect on their ability to continue to "premium price"

      A comparable product to the traditional Filofax is the handmade Glen Royal leather binder. When I last looked, these were priced at around £150.

      OK! Filofax already has the Enigma and Regency at £195. The number of product reviews (2 on the UK site) suggests that neither is a good seller. I may be proved wrong, but I think that the days of volume sales of leather organisers at premium prices are long gone (sadly!)

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    3. .. before someone takes issue.. I had forgotten that there were much more expensive Filofaxes available at the height of the Yuppie era. One I recall was called the Carmarthen. It had real 12 carat gold protective corners and sold for £195 (£495 today!). If London City Slickers were all buying these now, our beloved City Organiser could be saved from becoming history!

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    4. Also don't forget that the Winchester I bought in the mid 80's came empty...

      And I was also thinking along the lines of the cost compared to what I earned now as a percentage, compared to what I would earn now etc, not just as a straight increase on the UK inflation rate and then which ever index you use....

      I suppose the Mulberry isn't a good comparison price wise because their prices vary considerably, what you buy on line for say £300 can be got from one of their outlet shops for close to £150.

      We have also discovered a new Glen Royal supplier in London
      http://www.linksonjack.com/leather-goods/ they price them at £123 which is very good considering the workmanship that goes in to them, but their design is a lot simpler compared to the Winchester which if made to the same standard I would expect to cost more. I do remember reading somewhere that the Glen Royal organisers were priced at about £153 but that would be over a year ago now.

      Steve


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  5. I've had 2 Winchesters briefly in my possession before rehoming them & the build quality & simple design are a definite winner. However, when it came down to it I still preferred my Malden.

    Steve, I agree that a Winchester today would cost more than the top end of the current range... maybe £250? I've heard people say they wanted one back in the day & could never afford one!

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  6. If you want a really high quality leather binder go and buy a Montblanc one. You may also be paying for the name, but the quality is there. Only down side for some is that there is not a lot of choice in colour and design - but then again one could say that concetrating on a smaller range and making it much better build quality has it's merits.

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  7. Funny reference to Filo's about half way down:

    http://www.80sactual.com/2009/10/yuppie.html

    I had one in the late 80s and for the life of me I cannot recall the model...but I am sure it was a nice textured, good-smelling leather one - I've always appreciated that part - the feel fo the leather. That is why I am so disappointed in what we have seen thus far in the current new range.

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  8. from a 1987 NY times article:

    "When they took control in 1980, Filofax had no sales force and the organizers were sold in 40 shops, mostly British stationers. Today the products are sold in 2,200 retail outlets worldwide, including such leading British stores as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason and such American vendors as Neiman-Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's.

    Under Mr. Collischon, the Filofax range has also been drastically expanded to 600 product types, up from 250. The binders range from a vinyl low-budget version that sells for $21 to the top-of-the-line crocodile offering at $940.

    But most of the variety is in the paper inserts, costing $2 to $5 each. These include planners that schedule days starting at 6 A.M., city guides with vital data (such as where to eat after midnight in New York and Paris) and a wide selection of specialized information inserts for activities that include cooking, golf, windsurfing, bridge, wine tasting and bird watching."

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    1. Hi Marianna - the history of Filofax in the late 80's is a fascinating lesson in a company "resting on it's laurels" and failing to sustain it's core product. If you've not already read it, do go to the files menu above or to: - http://www.philofaxy.com/files/filofax-chronology.pdf to read more.

      In short:-
      1987 was the peak year. David and Lesley Collischon floated the company at 120p per share. They rocketed to 203p, resulting in a huge paper profit!
      1988 profits were £2.7 million (on sales of £6m).
      Sales then collapsed. In 1989 Filofax LOST £959,000.
      By 1990 shares were only worth 19 pence each. They eventually sold for 30p each, but then collapsed again to just 13p.
      This is why the new owners took drastic action from 1991. The old, UK-manufactured, quality range was dropped, (as were the vast majority of inserts) and replaced by cheaper, lower-quality, Asian manufactured alternatives.

      The history since is another chapter, we're more familiar with!

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    2. Hi Tim:

      Thank you for the link - very interesting indeed. Reminds me in a way of what is happening to Apple right now. I just read they are in almost freefall from a high of $705.07 USD down 39% to $429.80USD - up 89 cents! They are bucking up against other smartphones/Androids which continue to innovate while Apple iPhone has remained rather stagnant (I have an iPhone!) Google's Android took 70% of the worldwide market in sales 4th Q/2012 compared with Apple's 21%.

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  9. One more brief comment. With the apparent adoration of quality, high-end leather luxury products observed in and around NY, (i.e. handbags, wallets, portfolios, etc.) I'm pretty sure a super quality leather Filofax would have no trouble being snapped up - think of it - it could stimulate sales as the next "must have" and inspire a return to putting pen to paper - which is not a bad thing. Could also spill over to the use of a nie fountain pen - instead of the plastic, dispoable world we see everywhere. Temporary everything from pens, to furniture, to people... I must be getting old! :)

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  10. Hi, this is my first ever post here! Many years ago as an impecunious teen in the mid eighties I bought my first ever filo, but it was most definitely not leather. It had a black rubber spine and the front and back were the same rubbery material, but red and ribbed (sounds dubious, I know). I have no idea what it was called, and it was stolen from my car in 1991. Does anyone recall these at all? I still miss it.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like a Wellington.
      I've seen a couple for sale on eBay, so you may be able to replace it it one day!

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  11. Entering the fray for the first time.... has anyone ever heard of the Raika planner? It only comes in the personal size and a 3 ring A5. I've had one for several years and think it a well made great looking leather binder. The leather is very soft and fine-grained. Comes in a lot of colors, but only one style. Their web site is raikausa and isn't very user friendly. Mine is chocolate brown, has a full length wallet pocket, 6 card slots, zip and secretarial pockets and 1 inch rings(!). If anyone is interested, I'll take pictures. I love it, but it isn't a Malden. Price was $140. Oh-- their inserts are all cotton cream and pretty good quality.

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    1. Hi Susan:

      I had not heard of Raika but just googled it (see below) and indeed the "1-2-3 Pocket lined journal" as they call it, looks like a very soft almost Finsbury-esque leather!

      Nice!


      http://www.raikausa.com/html/products/journals.html

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  12. Back in 1986 when I was living in London and first discovered filofax, I would go into Rymans on Kensington High Street to covet the lovely binders and try and decide which colour to get, the red, maroon or (British racing style) green. At that time a filled binder was around £56.00. I presume it was a Winchester since they seemed to be the most popular? My hourly rate at the time was around £4.80 so £56.00 would have been a considerable purchase.

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  13. Delighted to see an article on vintage Filofaxes. I am personally drawn to these and just received the Winchester 4 CLF yesterday. Thanks :)

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  14. Seen on FB:

    http://www.filofax.co.uk/store/page.asp?id=300

    So,in the words of Peggy Lee - "is that all there is?"

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    Replies
    1. Marianna - there's a lot of other new models yet to be officially announced and shown on Filofax websites. Steve should be allowed to reveal all when he can, but I'm sure most of us already know the model names;-
      Blossom
      Calipso
      Charleston
      Circuit (iPad)
      The Original
      Patent

      See posts over Easter regarding several of these...

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    2. thanks Tim! I thought I had seen an aqua Malden on the P&L site as well - so that's something ...

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  15. As Marianna mentioned in a previous comment, I would really like to see a Filo in luxury leather. I like Hermes as a model. Very fine leather, very simple designs, excellent hand workmanship. And the logo/name is discreetly printed, in small letters on the inside - unlike the Violet Temperly - that logo screams at you when you open the binder.) Discreet luxury. (The fact that an Hermes handbag can cost as much as a car is not part of this discussion. :)

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  16. Hi, this is also my first post. I bought my first filo in January (Personal Aston in Orchid) after scouring this site for hours on end (much to the exasperation of my partner!!).
    I just wondered if anybody knew whether you can purchase the address tab inserts from the swift organiser as they would really compliment my colour scheme. Thank you

    Charlene

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  17. Bought from eBay last year a green personal "Tejus" Filofax which had very few marks of age. I don't think it was used much and it came with some original papers, I could definately see the difference and the quality that these original Filofaxes had.

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  18. Interesting Steve that you say the material covering the rear of the 2CLF's outer cover is PVC or a thin plastic.
    I have a couple of these two pocket binders, and they seem to be leather throughout - the inside lining of the covers is a smooth leather as far as I can tell.
    Basically, any vintage filo of this era was well made, including those at the lower and mid parts of the price range.

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    1. Hi gmax - I don't remember them being part-vinyl either. The 2CLF models I recall were called Argyll (as opposed to 4CLF which was Winchester). There was also a 2DCLF which was the Duplex version. I thought that was all leather too, but I may be wrong.

      There must be someone on here with some old catalogues to jog our memories?

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    2. The flaps of the pockets are leather, the outer is leather, it's the interior lining that is like a PVC film.

      Steve

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    3. Hi Tim & Steve. There must have been some variation in 2CLF construction. Even the Winchester had some nuances e.g. whether the material behind the ring mechanism was leather or fabric - I've seen both.
      The D2CLF interior was non-leather in the late 80's, at least on the "wide" models where the pages don't overlap. It was like the covering on the old "leathercloth" storage binders.

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    4. To be clear - the D2CLF pockets themselves were leather.
      So this was pretty much as your 2CLF Steve.

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  19. I've got an old all vinyl Filofax at home but I'm away until tomorrow. I don't even think there is a model number. It has black rings and a snake skin black effect. Will look tomorrow and update. :)

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    1. Here is the link to my vinyl Filofax. I can't remember when I purchased it however. http://instagram.com/p/Xz0tRCDutM/

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    2. This would date from 1989-1991. It was called Cobra and was available in black, brown or red.

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  20. My footnote to the original assertion here would be that the vintage filos were certainly not all luxurious. Many were distinctly utilitarian, but they were all built to last.

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  21. I have a dark green leather Paul Smith Winchester that I bought from his store in Covent Garden in the mid 80s...and marked with 5CL F7/8...nice condition...interested in finding out if it has any value today?

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  22. I actually still *have* a Filofax "2VR 7/8"; it's a personal sized binder, in grey plasticy-nylon finish, dating from the early 1990s, when I bought it from, if I recall correctly, a branch of Ryman's in The Strand. It's still in remarkably good condition, probably because it was relegated to spare insert storage on a shelf in my flat. It has no closure straps, no pen loop, a couple of transparent open envelopes on the inside front and inside back covers, and a standard set of rings. Compared to the more traditional leather binders, it's kind of tacky, but at the time, it was cheap, and a Filofax. It also has the honour of being the first personal organiser that I bought with my hard-earned cash! :-)

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  23. Anybody have pics. of Filofax 2VR colour range

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    Replies
    1. May be ask on Free for All Tuesday (Today's post)

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