20 March 2019

True Vintage - Norman and Hill Leather Organiser

This last weekend I got to see my brother in law. He has loaned me his 'vintage' Norman and Hill leather slim organiser.

He's not the original owner, he inherited it from a previous engineer at his workplace back in about 1994.

Tony (B.i.L.) has been using it as an address book! And as you can see from the photos it's not in perfect condition, but it has not had an easy life! He has a few old inserts, just lined paper.

The organiser could do with a little TLC as some of the stitching has come undone and may be give it a light clean and a little leather conditioning. But it is in lovely condition for its age. I will not do anything to it until I have had a chance to talk with him.



The rings are the modern linked type, not the very old independent type I've written about before. They are approximately half an inch in internal diameter.

It has a very practical set of pockets on the inside front and rear inside covers. The small pockets, top and bottom of the front inside cover would have been used for postage stamps or railway tickets.


The presence of this emblem might help us give an accurate date to this organiser. 'N&H Ltd London' is of course Norman and Hill Ltd London. 

Norman and Hill is the original company that started to import organisers from Lefax in the USA in the early 1920's, they later renamed their products Filofax from 'File of Facts' 


The original 'cover page' which also shows the Norman Hill address in Newgate Street.


In discussion with 'GMax' we seem to believe that this model is as shown in the 1937 catalogue page 2 as shown below.


We think it is a model A.299 Lefax “pocket book” this matches the pocket layout. Additionally given the address details shown on the cover page, which is an address we know that Norman and Hill occupied before World War 2.

This design was continued through until about 1980/1981 when it became the Filofax 6CL (Gloucester) it also changed from Morocco leather to Calf leather.

This is one of the oldest examples of the Norman and Hill Ltd products that we have seen to date.

Thank you to GMax for his help and knowledge in dating or narrowing down the period we are confident that this organiser is from. Of course thanks also to by brother in law Tony for the loan of this organiser.



19 March 2019

Free For All Tuesday - No. 424

So what questions or discussion points have you got for us today?

It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or a more experienced user of organisers, we want to hear your thoughts, questions, opinions etc.

We are here to answer your questions.

Make today the one day you post a comment or a question.

It is Tuesday after all so fire away.

18 March 2019

Can I Fit Bigger or Smaller Rings?

'Can I fit bigger rings to my Make X Model Y in Size Z?' Is a question I am often asked.

People start the year and as the year progresses so the amount of paper they are carrying increases etc. I'm sure you know the story well.

The answer is 'Yes' and 'No' !

Why you might ask... well let's look at the mechanics of rings.

Rings are available in a variety of sizes and often in gold and silver. In the past they were painted/powder coated a few different colours as well.

Image Source - Van der Spek
The different sizes of organiser and different ring sizes result in different dimensions for the mounting points of the rings on to the base plate. As you can see below Standard (Personal) uses the same base plates for both 25 and 30mm rings. Likewise Senior (A6) uses the same for 20 and 25mm as well as the Gillio 23mm A6 rings.

Sadly, on Junior (Pocket) size they have different mounting point dimensions for the 16 and 20mm rings. Therefore you can't easily upgrade a pocket from 16mm to 20mm rings. You would have to do some surgery to remove the backplate and replace it with the correct one. Not impossible, but you would need to be reasonably skilled to do this sort of work, to re-stitch the exterior and interior leather back together again.


Image Source - Van der Spek

As you can see some conversions are reasonably easy to do 25mm -> 30mm on Standard (Personal/Medium) size are more or less a straight swap.

However, this is where an element of 'No' you can't swap the rings comes in.

Whilst they will physically fit the back plate and work etc, there might be an issue with the space left for the pages, increasing the ring size by 5mm in the above example, means that the thickness of the organiser might be increased by 5mm and the edge pages are moved 5mm closer to the outer edge of the organiser.

That said in some cases the designer obviously considered the larger ring size and the cover is 'bigger'  than the normal size of rings and therefore some can take the larger rings without the pages/tabs sticking out beyond the edge of the organiser.

Is there a list of ones that can take bigger rings? Not as such, but a simple way of telling is to measure the distance from the middle of your paper stack in the organiser to the edge of the organiser when closed. The middle being the highest part of the curve of the rings and is therefore closer to the edge.

Also be aware of the top or the bottom of your stack of pages getting closer to the pen loop if there is one.

Another way of creating the additional space to allow for the increase in ring size is to go from using side tabs to top/bottom tabs.

Going down in ring size say from 30mm to 25mm isn't a problem as long as the ring mounting points are the same, you just need to exchange the rings over. And if you are careful removing the rings you can reverse the change easily should you want to go back to the original size.

I hope that helps and answers your questions, if not please leave a comment below and I will try to respond to your questions as quickly as possible.