16 April 2010

Duplex Binders - Guest Post

Continuing our 'historic' theme this week, we would like to thank GMax for their article on Duplex Binders. 

Rarely sighted, even while they were still being offered for sale twenty odd years ago, the Duplex models have acquired a special place in my Filofax affection. Essentially a double version of a conventional, personal Filofax, with two separate sets of rings, they offered some unique advantages in respect of capacity, and in the number of pages available to view at one time.

The Duplex was “particularly favoured by military personnel”, and “originally designed by the army to fit inside the large trouser side pocket”. I can remember these pockets from my short time in the Combined Cadet Force at school, and this is certainly plausible.

Duplex binders were made in two different widths, although, strangely, this fact seems to be something that Filofax themselves never publicised - maybe the marketing department just didn’t know? An illustration of the narrower form can be seen at the “Filofax Collection” website. Catalogues at the time explained that the leaves in the Duplex binders overlap slightly (citing the “trouser pocket” reason already mentioned), and that the open Duplex allows three pages to be viewed simultaneously. This is true for the narrower form, and the overlap does sadly rather compromise the design.

In the wider form of Duplex, four single leaves can be viewed at one time without overlap, which is a far more practical arrangement. When the binder is closed, however, the two stacks of leaves on each set of rings do still need to overlap, because the spines push the pages towards the centre as you close each side – obvious really, but not something I’d appreciated until I actually got hold of one.

Some months ago I was lucky enough to find a vinyl Duplex (DVF7/8) in good condition, and just recently I was even more fortunate to acquire a “new, old stock” calf leather Duplex (D2CLF7/8) on eBay.

As well as Calf Leather and Vinyl, Duplex binders were also offered in:
  • Hide Leather
  • Pigskin
  • Morocco Grain Leather
  • Canvas
  • Leathercloth
Both of mine have 7/8 inch rings, but smaller, half inch rings were also available in all of these materials.

By 1988 the Duplex range had narrowed to Calf or Morocco Grain. The latter would have been a very sturdy beast. The Duplexes were discontinued early in the 1990s as part of the unfortunate, total revamp of the product range.

So how do Duplex binders work out in practice?

  • A particular benefit is if you need to compare information side-by-side, or do work while making reference to other leaves.
  • I would recommend the wider form, to avoid issues of overlapping pages.
  • The use of side tab dividers in a wider form Duplex is not really viable, because they impinge on the opposite paper stack, so top-tab dividers are definitely better if you can find them (or make some yourself).
  • The fact that the two stacks of paper must overlap when the binder is closed mean that it’s best to have something robust like a plastic flyleaf at the front and back of each stack of pages.
  • The other main usage tip is to keep read-only leaves mainly on the side opposite to the handedness of the user. For example, being right-handed, I keep my set of maps on the left in my vinyl Duplex.

I did have some doubts beforehand about the practicality of the Duplex, but when experienced at first-hand they actually seem quite usable, and not that bulky compared to a normal personal model. Overall, I think they can be counted amongst the highlights of the Filofax.

GMax - April 2010

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