Thank you to Alan for writing this excellent post on the subject of 'Vintage Filofax' organisers. Several times I have tried to get people to set some definitive guidelines on what should be considered Vintage and what isn't.
There is a Facebook group for the discussion of Vintage Filofax models, and a couple of times each year, the question of what constitutes a “vintage” Filofax comes up. The group description says, “For users, collectors and appreciators of the "Golden Age" of Filofax, the 1980s and early 1990s when they were hand made in England from the best quality materials to a quality not a price.”
In past discussions, people have proposed a number of “vintage” criteria or borderlines:
Some specific number of years, such as 20 or 25 – This embodies one dimension of the context of the word “vintage” – age – and it is dynamic, in that more models would start to be considered vintage, as time passes.
Made in England – In 1991, Filofax started to move a lot of its production off-shore and “Made in England” was either dropped or replaced by “The British Filofax System” in models destined for the U.S. This would omit a number of high-quality, harder to find classics such as the Ascot, Connaught and Dorchester, all made in the U.S. Obviously, no one would want to include the recent “Original” model which Filofax trumpeted as returning to U.K. manufacturing.
Ring protectors – One feature of some older, classic Filofax binders (Winchester, Carmarthen, Grosvenor) was the presence of ring protectors. However, many models produced in this era did not have them, such as the Argyle (2CLF), Buckingham (2MLF, 2HLF, etc.), Durham (0CLF) and Gloucester (6CLF). Furthermore, quite a few models after the Winchester era have had them, such as the Eton. Ring protectors are an element of quality, but not an indicator of vintageness.
Name stamped or embossed – Another change that happened at some point in the early 1990s was the appearance of model names stamped or embossed, usually inside the cover. Names had existed for years, but during the Winchester era, only model codes were stamped or embossed. Early production of the Sherwood and Lincoln models did not have their names anywhere in the binders, but at some point, the names appeared.
Filofax “f” logo on the spine – at some point during the Winchester era, the Filofax trademark “f” started to appear on the spine.
Stamping on the ring cover-plate – Older Filofax have plain ring cover-plates. Some are stamped with “fILOFAX” and others, the “f” logo.
Alphanumeric codes – At one point, all Filofax models had alphanumeric model codes, which I have referred to liberally so far. I have been referring to this time as the Winchester era. Winchesters continued to be made as late as 1993, after most production had been moved out of England, after cheaper models such as the Windsor and Lincoln had gone into production, after names had started to be embossed or stamped in the binders, and after the “f” logo had appeared on spines and cover-plates.
Clearly, it is difficult, if not impossible, to delineate a specific point between vintage and non-vintage.
In my view, a vintage Filofax needs at least two of four characteristics: 1. Quality, 2. Age, 3. Rarity or uniqueness, and 4. Historical Significance. I have leather-cloth storage binders (0L 7/8) bought relatively inexpensively in the Filofax shop in 1986, which I consider vintage, based on age and historical significance. The Grace Scurr Anniversary Duplex is vintage, likely on all four factors, although “age” – it was produced in 1996 – would depend on whether you chose 20 or 25 years as the criterion. I have no problem discussing Ascots, Connaughts, and Dorchesters, in the Vintage group as they are high quality items, somewhat rare, and some might argue, historically significant, despite their scandalously recent vintage, being from the second half of the 1990s. While they date back as far as 25 years and were initially made in England and did not have the model name stamped in them, I do not consider the Lincoln to be a vintage model as it was cheaply made, are not very scarce, and their only historical significance could be a new low for the quality of leather binders.
How do you define vintage when it comes to Filofax?