08 February 2012

Restoring my Buckingham?

My Buckingham is my first real Filofax, bought in 2001. It has black, soft smooth leather that I previously thought was indestructible. My Buckingham has done a lot of really hard traveling around the world with me. It was used heavily for nearly a decade.

A couple of years ago I noticed my Buckingham was finally starting to show some signs of wear on the cover. Nothing that anyone else would even notice, really, just a couple of places where the leather was lightly scuffed.  So to preserve its beauty, I put it on the shelf in semi-retirement.

Ironically, it has suffered far worse damage in retirement than it ever did in all those years of heavy use.

Its first major damage happened in transit here to Jakarta. I packed it in my air shipment, which was supposed to arrive a week after we moved but ended up sitting in customs for a month. In the tropical Indonesian heat. And I had very stupidly packed my Buckingham right next to a plastic-covered planner. The plastic melted slightly onto the leather cover of my Buckingham, leaving much of it shiny.  I was very upset about it, and angry at myself for making such a mistake.

So I put it on my shelf with my other Filofaxes, carefully (I thought).  Unfortunately I didn't pay attention to the fact that the back cover was right up against a Domino, and every time I put a book in or out of that shelf the shifting of my Buckingham against the Domino's round strap dug and scuffed the leather right across the back of the binder, much to my heartbreak.

Then to add insult to injury, the front cover of the Buckingham was up against one of my Finsbury Filofaxes. Who knew that the knobbly texture of the Finsbury would imprint itself into the soft leather of the Buckingham??

So first of all I've learned my lesson: this beloved Filofax must be stored in a box, no exception.

Another problem caused by shelving my Buckingham is that during the years it has not been handled on a daily basis the leather has started to look cracky along either side of the spine where the leather creases when the binder is open.  All those years of handling my Filofax every day kept it smooth and supple with the oils from my hands. Now it's really starting to show signs of neglect.

Now I'm faced with the question of what to do to try to restore my beloved Buckingham to some of its former glory. My first solution was of course to take it off the damn shelf and put in on my desk along with all my other in-current-use books, and to handle it as often as possible. Already it's looking better--the Finsbury impressions are coming out, and the cracky areas are smoothing. The shiny plastic residue has mostly rubbed off.

But I still have the horrible scuffs on the back cover. Luckily it is the back, and the front is not nearly as marred. But I would like to try to smooth that out.

I haven't tried the Nivea creme trick, because I'm afraid the mineral oil base would remove some of the leather's dye color. I think probably the best thing to do would be to handle it as much as possible, and the scuffs will smooth out at least a little bit over time.

Which brought me to the realization: Filofaxes, especially the well-made leather ones, are like living things. They must be handled and cared for. They need attention and love. Left on the shelf to languish, they wither and die.

So please, learn from my mistakes!  And if anyone has any ideas for getting scuffs out of soft, smooth leather please let me know!


  1. I am so sorry about your Buckingham. That process sounded very painful. Your FF is dying to get back to action! Literally

  2. oh this is a sad story of your Buckingham :(
    I would try a neutral cream leather restorer to put some moisture back into the leather.
    I have a couple of small dents in my Hampstead, and I often "massage" them to try to clear them, and it seems to be working a little.
    I always remember many years ago me and my partner at the time bought a very expensive soft leather sofa. The sales guy told us the best thing for soft leather was to wipe a bit of sweat into it!! hmmmm, not tried that lol
    Another alternative is saddle soap. This used to make our new saddles and bridles for the horses much more supple and "fed".
    Like you say, regular use is the best thing for any leather.
    Good luck, or in France we say "Bonne courage"
    Nikki x

  3. Hi there!

    A real Filofax should look used and cracky and some sort of personal. But for a universal cure, I recommend "Ballistol" which is an oil especially developed for cleaning weapons, but it can be used for other materials as well.

    Ballistol is great for the ring mechanisms to make them work easier. If you rub it into the leather your Filo will get a second life.

    Maybe Ballistol is available in Germany only where I live but you could ask a gunsmith for similar universal oils.



  4. Wow thanks for the post. I know leather lasts longer when constantly handled, but I didn't think that my Filofax would need the same attention.

    Definitely not going to shelve it now!

  5. Thank you for your suggestions everyone!!!

  6. I have a late 90s (I think) Buckingham and have been told by 2 leather workers that the surface is a bonded plastic like material on top of the split leather.I've treated it with Nivea and leather care productsbut I'm uncertain if it has ever got through the plastic!