10 March 2014

Duplex Filofax

The duplex Filofax is quite unique, it contains two sets of rings spaced about 17cm apart, the design has been around for many years, although sadly (some might say) not available in the current range of organisers.

This catalogue which I believe dates back to 1937 shows duplex models:

I think they were used a lot by Army officers and the Doctors for all the different inserts that were available back then.

Here is another one from more recent times, it was produced as a limited edition of 1921 examples and sold as part of the 85th anniversary of Filofax, I saw this one at Filofax in Burgess Hill when we visited them back in September last year.

I was looking back through some photos and some previous posts when the thought occurred to me that would a duplex organiser partially solve the desire for bigger rings in a personal size organiser? I have 30 mm size rings in a few of my own organisers, but nearly all in the current range these days are 23mm and there are the odd exceptions like the Gillio medium size which has 26 mm size rings.

But if you had two sets of 23 mm rings would they be the equivalent of a set of 46 mm rings? That's 1.8 inches in olde worlde measurements!

Then I spotted a link in the comments to some modern day duplex organisers... I had to investigate.

And this is what I found

Yes this is made out of a very thin flexible PVC, not exactly luxury, but for the purposes of this assessment of the idea of two sets of rings it is fine. I bought it from 'Kit Monster' and it's sold for holding Tactical Aide Memoirs (TAM)

I've done a video about it too.

Looking at it over a few days I've been trying to understand why they spaced the rings so that the pages over lapped, why not space them a bit further apart so they didn't overlap?

I might be tempted to make something similar to this out of a single piece of leather but make it a bit bigger and have a simple closure on it to hold it closed.

The one advantage I can see with a duplex is that you can have two sections of your organiser open at the same time and it is then easier to refer to both sections without having to flick from one to the other. But of course is does take up a lot more desk space in the process!

Are there any of you that have used a Filofax duplex organiser on a regular basis?


  1. I have two Duplex models which I used in the 80s. Both are personal size in leather.

    Duplex No 1 is in tan, model number DHLF 1/2. The only pocket it has is one on the rear flap. I like holding and carrying this one around as the leather is smooth and it fits snuggly into my hand just like a compact binder.

    Model 2 is in black leather. and is model DMLF 7/8. The rings are normal personal size at 23mm but it does not have any pockets. It, too, fits snuggly into my handthe same way that a normal personal size binder does but I've gone off black. However, playing with it this morning, has reawoken my liking for it and it would make a great book fax.

    The only downside I found when using the Duplex is that you have to close it carefully so the paper does not get crumpled. The overlap means that it is very easy to crush papers and tabs and it used to drive me crazy! But I found it very useful to have my diary open on the left hand side and the right available for notes. I only stopped using these when I discovered technology and tried to replace paper - it didn't work and I'm back in an A5 now.

    I suspect the overlap was to reduce the width of the binder. Closed, the tan model is approx 13cms in width and approx 36 cms when open. The black binder is approx 17cms when closed and approx 45cms when open. I say approx because I'm using my A5 page marker to measure. I'd buy a modern Duplex model if it was produced in something brighter coloured than tan or black but these days I like a binder I can find easily amongst the papers on my desk.

    On another topic, can anyone recommend a hole punch for the old style pocket binders with only 4 rings?

    1. "On another topic, can anyone recommend a hole punch for the old style pocket binders with only 4 rings?"
      The Franklin Covey Personal/Pocket hole punch works for this -- the holes will be larger but they will fit the spacing. Set it for the FC Pocket size (FC Pocket has 6 holes, not the same as Filofax Pocket) then center the paper so that you use the 4 inner holes only. Hope that makes sense.

  2. I would love a duplex, it would ease so much congestion and must be easier than juggling two organisers.

  3. @Kate - like the sound of your two. From the dimensions you mention, one is of the narrow format where the pages overlap when open, and the other is the wide variety where they just fit without the overlap when open. Both will require care in closing to avoid the clash and crumple issue you've highlighted.
    The narrow form was reputedly intended to fit in a military trouser leg pocket. They are only slightly wider than a normal personal sized Filo.

  4. Dividers with top tabs are the only ones practical in a Duplex. The side tab ones don't fit properly and are too easily covered.

  5. I bought a narrow duplex on ebay. Unfortunately it was very musty and the smell would not go away despite lots of airing and several months sitting in bicarbonate of soda. In the end I decided to soak it in a proprietary leather mould killer as a last resort. Luckily this worked and the binder is now fresh!

  6. I own a black DMLF7/8 like Kate's - but I've never used it, other than as a storage binder for extra inserts. I can't remember exactly where it came from - at one point many years ago I worked in a bookshop which also sold Filofaxes and their inserts, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility that I snagged it for a song when they stopped selling them and sold off all the old stock sometime in the late 80s.

    Of all the binders I own, I think the duplex has the sweetest ring mechanism. Absolutely perfect fit, the rings open and close with much less effort than my other binders, but feel very secure. The 'snick' as they close is a very solid sound! I've just checked and the binder is only a few mm taller than the Rhodia notepad pages I use in my A5, so I'm now wondering if I might punch a few of those to the personal hole spacing and give it a go...

  7. I was intrigued by pictures of these early military style binders and presumed no availability.
    Having moved to A5 my solution was to use the hard cover of two old A5 diaries, each punched for filofax and one opening out left, one opening out right. In this way I can fold out week to view left, two page per day centre, and month target tasks on the right. folding in is no problem with practice and providing not overloaded ie max one month and sundry spares.

    1. Joss, could you post a picture if possible? I'd love to see it. Thanks.

  8. Perhaps I'm just not looking properly, but is that green PVC Duplex floating?

  9. The Duplex looks sweet! I have a Flex set up in a similar way, (though with a Dodo Pad diary shoehorned into the middle of the binder via a haphazard DIY mechanism) with my self employment conservation notebook at one end and my retail management/HR notebook at the other end so I always have both on hand and can switch between my diary and either set of notes with ease.
    I would love to see a personal/A5Duplex come back (more specifically for me, in bright colours and a non-leather material)

  10. That looks perfect for a college student! I might show that to my son. :-)

  11. The Duplex was indeed designed to fit into the Map Pocket on the thigh of British military uniform, originally the "OG" lightweight trousers, later replaced by the much tninner material Lightweight Trousers. As the thigh pockets on the DPM (camoflague) trousers also took them, they were extremely popular with military people upto about the late 1980s/early 1990s. There were various "issue" versions, which were extremely hard to come by, despite the fact they were designed to be provided to Commanders. In practice, most people begged, borrowed (without returning) or stole one. The inserts provided were on waterproof, tear-proof paper, perfect for the majority of military people then posted in Germany who needed an organsier that would stand up to the pretty grim weather experienced during winter exercises on the North German Plain. I modified the contents of mine, so that the reference material I needed was on the left, and my own inserts and written notes were on the right. The Duplex version in the 1980s was usually the "Commanders Battle Book". A standard version, similar in size to today's 7/8" binders, was the Tactical Aide Memoire. This was a much inferior product, and like all the vinyl binders of that time, it was very prone to ripping between the covers and the spine, as the vinyl was much thinner. Specialised versions were produced for the 1990-1991 Gulf War ( I still have one buried somewhere in the garage), and others for the Balkan war in/around FRY in the 1990s (I still have the inserts but the binder is worse for wear). These had specialised inserts, such as local language phrases, guides to various uniforms, maps of the general area, etc. Here is a photo of the green vinyl Duplex from the 1980s: http://www.flickr.com/photos/burjmax/sets/72157630894384656/

    I'm very surprised that Filofax have not reintroduced them, even as a heritage version or limited edition. I am sure they would do well.

  12. Paul -

    I think they replaced TAM folders and their contents with a cheaper version: an online version of the reference papers (on the MoD intranet only, not available to uncleared persons), also on CD (likewise on internal distribution only), at all units and sub units.

    If, though, you're looking for a Duplex binder, they're still available; not only the KitMonster version that Steve reviewed above, but also from Cadet Direct, and also from what appears to be the actual manufacturer of them in both Green and Blue from Lansdale, at these links:
    Green - http://www.lansdaleltd.com/products/stationery/personal-exercise-organiser.html
    Blue - http://www.lansdaleltd.com/products/stationery/personal-exercise-organiser-blue.html

    I've got one of the green ones (from Cadet Direct), and they're vastly improved over the 1990s TAMS - for a start, there's a (thin) pen loop, slightly bigger rings, and pockets on all inside and the outside back cover. VERY handy for those of us who like to have all manner of stuff in our organisers!

    Hope the above helps someone!

    Have a great weekend,



  13. I would love to make a duplex in leather myself! The ones i have seen so far that i like are to expenses ( zenkraft has bi-, tri- and quadfold organisers, i love the quad!!!) I want lots of pockets and the possibility to put several section in that can lay next to eachother. I would make the midlle part a bit wider so there's no overlap. Someone interested in making a pattern with me and help to find how to put it together? I can use every help i can get! You can also mail me @ hellebuyckjolien@hotmail.com xxx

  14. I'm in the military and use one for my tactical notes and one for my personal organiser. For personal one I have a two day a page calender, month on one page and contacts a-z on the right set of rings and month the left side I have personal stuff from notes to a reference section to meetings notes. I'm still not completely happy with the various sections on the left but at the moment for me it works a treat

  15. I have an eight ring B5 organiser which will take Filofax deskfax inserts. Calf leather black. Beautifully soft. Any ideas of manufacturer?