12 August 2015

Lefax Radio Handbook

It is just over two weeks since Alison and I returned from our long trip to North America, we have more or less caught up with our selves and we have settled back down to the slower pace of life, as well as not having to haul a suit case around and re-pack it every few days!

We are still living on the memories of the places we visited and especially the people we met on our travels.

Completely unexpected in Los Angeles, I was presented with a small parcel and some cards and envelopes. I thought what is this? I opened it carefully and inside the parcel was a Lefax Radio Handbook. WOW!!! I was very touched by the messages in the card and the individually written letters from everyone who had contributed to this marvellous present.

I suppose I better quickly explain my connection with radio engineering, as it is a theme that seems to pop up quite often.

When I left school a long time ago when I was 16, I got a job as a trainee radio technician working for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office(FCO). I went through my training with them and went on to do various radio engineering jobs looking after radio communications equipment linking UK Embassies overseas with the FCO in Whitehall, London.

I worked for them for about 10 years including a 2 year stint in Cyprus.  After I got married I changed jobs, still doing radio but more frequency assignment type work for VHF broadcasting in UK. I then worked at a radio laboratory for about 18 years before I finished off being the Radio Spectrum Manager for a branch of the Ministry of Defence in Kent.

So for about 35 years I've known nothing but radio. In parallel to my salaried job I've been a volunteer spectrum manager for the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), I've done that role for over 21 years and this is still on-going, it is the only radio work I do these days having resigned/retired from paid employment in 2010.

Over the years I have collected a few radio reference books of historical interest, so the Lefax Radio Handbook was an excellent choice of gift for me, it connects my past with the present beautifully really.

As you can see I already have a Lefax Radio Log and a Lefax Radio Engineering set of inserts, click through to read about those.

So looking at the Lefax Radio Handbook. All the inserts and pages are dated 1922 or 1923, all in remarkably good condition considering their age and the way they have been stored.

The handbook is split up in to various sections, clearly labelled on the section dividers as shown below.

The binder has 13mm rings... and yes that is 16mm worth of inserts. Crammed full it certainly is.

But on removing all of the inserts, the rings are in like new condition, I've not done anything to them. Like the Radio Log the two sets of rings are independent of each other, the top tab only opens the top set of rings. The bottom tab the lower set of rings.

As you can see on the back cover it is a No. 655 Lefax binder. Looking in to various catalogues it is Moroccan leather, on a board backing with some form of backing material on the interior. There are no pockets or clasp or pen loop, just a simple 6 ring binder in the same size as a Filofax Personal size organiser. It is in very good condition. Much better than the similar Radio Log which is now very fragile by comparison.

I've only had a brief look through the inserts,  but they will give me hours of reading during the dark winter nights. They are shown here in the different sections.

There are some fold out inserts too. Lefax also sold monthly updates, these all date from 1923 as well.

There appear to be a few sample pages from the normal Lefax planner range shown in the photograph below in the lower row.

The stamp you can see with the name Max G. Jensen appears in a couple of places, on one of them there is an Radio Amateur callsign W6SFC which when I checked is still an active licence. So it has an interesting history.

Lefax also did other handbooks, Alan Marshall showed me his Mathematics Handbook whilst I was in Toronto.

I am very grateful to my North American friends for giving this wonderful gift, thank you.


  1. Superb! Exactly what Filofax and Lefax were originally conceived to be. Not a sticker, trinket or lump of washi tape in sight! I don't quite remember the 20's but as a teenager, I had a short wave radio and would often be in my bedroom very late at night having a trawl through the bands (SW1-3 and MB) for distant radio stations broadcasting from the other side of the world.

  2. Congratulations on your gift. I love it when the right Filofax is matched to the intended user. Thank you for sharing it with us, Steve.

  3. Such a splendid find! I am so pleased you like it and am sorry I was not there when it was presented to you!

  4. That is an amazin find and so nice for people to share it with you.

    The paper-style binder on the left is just like the one that was my great-grandfather's. It was a really dark brown, and I believe it said Electronics Log on the front. I never saw any of the original inserts. My grandmother repurposed it in the 70s - she did a typed version of a Commonplace book in it. She had hundreds of depression era sayings and colloquialisms, clippings from advice columns, all typed onto very thin (almost translucent) typing paper, and hand punched the holes. The original binder and papers got water-damaged in storage, so I typed it all up in the 90s. I should reprint it and put it in a Filofax :)

    1. You had me worried for a moment that the grandmotherly text was lost Bree. Glad you saved it. Yes it would be at home again in a Filofax.

  5. I love the leaf with Max G Jenson's personal stamp imprinted. Stationery at its best!

    1. And of course his parents' choice of first names was impeccable ;-)

  6. What a lovely and thoughtful gift! Thank you Steve for showing it to all of us.

  7. I recently bought a Lefax Kensington personal. I'd heard they were better quality than Filofax and boy was it. The leather is like butter and without a mark, even though it dates from prior to 1984, I think. The rings are Krauser and are as tight and shiny as the day they left the factory. I love these early Lefax, and yours is a real treasure

  8. What a gift! Brings up a question, who was G Jensen? Why did this survive all these years? My mind is already spinning at 5:38 a.m. on a Sunday morning.