The timeless appeal of Filofax

Filofax is a unique element of ‘Englishness’, notwithstanding how incorrect that term may now be in our liberal post-Brexit world. I am not afraid to say I am proud to retain a open respect to my country’s origins and its history and traditions. Culture remains a very important element of our identity and I genuinely fear the implications of that loss of identity to the wider tolerance in our society.


Anyway, my focus in this blog is my Filofax and how, despite all the technology at our finger tips, it remains one of my most treasured and important possessions.

To demonstrate their longevity I have only ever owned three Filofax in the past 30 years. I purchased my first Filofax upon joining the Royal Air Force in 1987 and it stayed with me throughout my military service. In 2003 I replaced it with a lovely light brown leather version, and had no real reason to replace that until I found a new release by Filofax recently in which they have recreated and reissued their original for the 1920s design – as a lover of all things 1920/1930s this was too good an opportunity to miss!

For those of you not familiar with the Filofax let me explain. It is a small ring binder, able to contain addresses, one’s diary, note pages, and any plethora of other maps and reference material you may wish to add. Over the years it becomes a trusted friend, a safe repository of thoughts, ideas, names, dates. It was an army officer in 1921 who came up with the term Filofax and used the small file to contain maps and details of his troops and orders. Although its shape and size has evolved and changed – you can purchase a multitude of different sizes – its core purpose has not. It reached its peak in the 1980s and became an iconic symbol of that period.

What I like the most is the sense of calm one achieves in using it, it is like using a fountain pen to write with, shaving with soap and a shaving brush, wearing bespoke suits, enjoying a leisurely luncheon.

My new Filofax is made from the original buffalo leather, incredibly soft, and more narrow in width than the more standard modern Filofax, the rings are also slightly thinner. As a result it has more the feel of a slim pocket notebook. Added to which the use of the classic cream coloured inserts really does give one the feel of a vintage product.

I decided to add to the sense of the 1920/1930s by finding a vintage silver revolving pencil in a local antique shop and then found on eBay a pencil lead case (made of silver). The key to the longevity of a Filofax is to enter all the details in pencil – it is easy to ‘erase’ an old contact or change an appointment. The Filofax has an elasticised attachment for the pencil.

So, I am set – able to control my time in a classic manner, take simple notes, and keep my contacts close to hand. I feel part of a ‘slow down’ movement!

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