29 June 2006

You Can Quote Me

Seems a lot of folks I've met on this blog are using Pocket or Mini size 'faxes. It stands to good reason: The Pocket is the Moleskine of Filofaxes. What does that make the Mini...the Cahier?

Then there's the Volant, which n'est plus.* Hmmm...has a Filofax size ever gone extinct? In fact, didn't Moleskines disappear entirely for a while there? Fads have come and gone, but the Filofax has never gone away.

Funny how, while 'skiners are more likely to affect black tees and black jeans, it's us 'faxers who are the iconoclastic bohemians these days, having our esoteric thrills here on our relatively undiscovered blog.

* If you know what this means, it means you've actually bought a Moleskine and read the little history sheet, printed in four languages on that smooth, cream paper...droool... Ahem. Sorry. Seriously now, can Moleskines actually say they were invaluable during the blitz?


  1. Well, I use a personal size Filofax with a large ring mechanism that Filofax currently doesn't make; does that make me a dirty neo-Classicist?

  2. Neo -- You're definitely welcome here! I notice this is your second time commenting! I only hesitate to reply because I have to show my ignorance. My most recent musical experience is singing Haydn's "Mermaid Song" in a student recital earlier this month, and that's just not neo-Classical or neo-Anything...it's just plain old Baroque!

    So tell us, what is this wonderful, unobtainable ring size you have? According to my USA catalog, the largest ring size on a Personal is 1" (254 mm). What ring size do you have? The idea of a Personal size with nice big rings is enchanting me!

  3. Filofax sell paper and calendars in sizes called "Deskfax" and "M2", neither of which they sell at the moment - presumably these are both vanished sizes.

    I *think* the M2 was a kind of wallet-fax thing - even smaller than the Mini, and the Deskfax, I think, was somewhere between A5 and A4 - probably better that they've moved towards standard paper sizes.

  4. Well, shut my mouth!

    (thanks for setting the record straight, ppm)

  5. My persona size-- that I purhased about 7 years ago-- has 1.25 inch rings.

  6. Size Matters

    As a man, my problem with the "Pocket" size was it didn't really fit in a pocket! Or if it did, it was rather obvious, not to mention, er, uncomfortable.
    I had read somewhere that the Managing Director of Filofax himself uses a Mini--portability being the key. But in the same article he talked about having maps in it; and the single map available for the Mini is the world map--of rather limited utility unless you're an alien. So I question whether he really uses a Mini.
    I also question the old story about the British soldier whose life was purportedly saved in 1943 by a bullet ricocheting off the Filofax in his chest pocket. Though it's true that the military was the original market for Filofax (along with the clergy), it's doubtful that the Personal (the only size available in '43) would have fit in a chest pocket--maybe a fatigue jacket pocket? This was probably dreamed up by the Public Relations folk, as the ultimate Filofax "time-saving" story.
    That being said, the Personal size, for me, appears to be ideal. It's largely to do with the actual paper size. When I used a Pocket size, I found that I was tending to abbreviate everything, write tiny, and my elucidation suffered. In other words, although everything was in there, my thinking was suffering from having to write too small.

    The Personal size seems to be the most well-thought-out size imaginable. Even though it bears no known relationship to any other paper size known to man - it's not a multiple of the standard ISO A sizes we're all used to, and it doesn't even seem to be related to the old historical 'inches/imperial' sizes of generations long gone. It's sui generis - seemingly developed and honed in total
    isolation guided purely by function.

    It seems the ideal size in relation to the hand and the pen, given what's left outside the ring binding area. It simply means that I have to take something slightly larger everywhere with me, but that's a relatively small price to pay for the increased utility and
    usability. The Personal size was the original, long before the Deskfax, Pocket, Mini, the late M2, etc. came along, and still outsells all others by a considerable margin.

    The Pocket enforces a continual restriction at the same time as it tries far too politely not to be obvious, whereas the Personal does no such thing- on the contrary, it is prone to become overstuffed. No sense in trying to hide it - you can't.

    Certainly the Japanese seem to agree, as their Filofax knock-offs (Maruchan Data Plan, amongst others) use the exact size paper, which they have dubbed "Bible" sized. But even Japanese men carry a small "purse"-type carrier, which makes it easy for them to make it "vade mecum."

    Of course, you can always just carry the Personal like a book. The downside is that people may mistake you for a missionary.

  7. Hi Zedzian --

    Thanks for the great post! As someone who once thought that the personal size was "nothing to nobody," at the same time I know it can be "all things to all people." Although I've given myself a moratorium on changing from my A5/Pocket system for the rest of 2006, I'm maintaining a list of reasons to switch to Personal.

    I don't think the Personal's size is a problem. It can go into a coat pocket, small to medium woman's handbag, backpack, and certainly into a briefcase carried by either sex. Or you can hand-carry it instead of a wallet a la Dianne Keaton (or a clergyman).