Saturday, 11 April 2015

Compact Cavendish versus compact Belgravia

[I realise this might be a less than useful comparison as neither of these binders are freely available, even on eBay but maybe if people see them somewhere and want to know a bit more about them, it will be helpful]

Last week, I said that I had bought another binder from eBay - it was a black compact Belgravia.

I knew nothing about the binder beyond the pictures that were on the advert but I could see that there were eight card slots on the LHS and a zipped pocket on the RHS. It had a strap closure and as it was a compact, I assumed it had 15mm rings.

Hang, on. Don't I have a black compact binder with eight card slots on the LHS and a zipped pocket on the back? In a compact Cavendish? Um... yes.

So, here we go - compare and contrast between the two:

Card slots:
Both binders have 8 card slots on the LHS but the Belgravia has slanted slots whereas the Cavendish has the more conventional straight slots. In both models, there is a vertical pocket behind the card slots.

Belgravia with curved card slots
Cavendish with straight slots

Right hand side:
In the Cavendish, there are two pocket on the RHS - a vertical one that is about half the width of the binder and a second 7/8 slip pocket.

Cavendish showing it unfilled

In the Belgravia, there is a zipped pocket with an elastic gusset. I've not seen that before. I have a couple of binders that have a leather gusset -allowing more to go into the pocket and easier access in general, but I have never seen one with an elastic gusset. It may just be that it is unused, but the elastic was very stiff!

Belgravia showing it unfilled
Paperweight jamming the pocket open so you can see the elastic

Back cover:
In the Cavendish, there is a zipped pocket on the back cover. The Belgravia just has Filofax embossed into the leather.

Cavendish with zipped pocket
Belgravia with embossed logo

Pen loop:
Both binders have a single all-leather pen loop that is about right for holding a very slim pen (like my Zebra diary pen/pencil (8mm diameter)) but would struggle with much more. Again, perhaps because it was newer/less used, the loop in the Belgravia was very tight. Both pen loops measured 5.5cm from the edge of the back cover to the centre of the press-stud fastener.
The Cavendish has a leather-covered stud; the Belgravia has a metal stud-cover with Filofax on it.

The Cavendish is a little less happy about opening flat and I would rate it as about 6/10. The Belgravia lies pretty flat and I would give it 9/10.

In the Belgravia there is a definite feeling of a piece of stiff card or similar in the front and back covers (with either nothing behind the ring mechanism, or three separate pieces. It feels more flexible between the cover and the spine).
The Cavendish also feels as if there is card behind the front and back covers but it is a lot less flexible at the cover-spine junction (which is presumably why it is less resistant to lying flat).

Both binders have oval rings that are 15mm wide and 11mm deep. There are no gaps and they snap closed very smartly.

Having looked at the specs, I then decided to put the same 'fill' into each of them to see how they worked.

I have actually used the Cavendish as my carry-around so I knew that it could work in this way. I put cards in the slots, my weekly plans for April in the front, 6-months of Da Vinci Tomoe River WO2P dairy behind, about a dozen information pages and then my address section. Right at the back I put the zipped pencil case that I keep coins in. In the back cover, I put paper money in the full-height vertical pocket and in the zipped pocket in the back cover, I put the cards I carry but don't need to access easily.

Cavendish, filled

As I say, I have used the Cavendish like this as my wallet-binder carry-around. The only thing that really bugged me was the fact it didn't really lie flat.

I put the same fill in to the Belgravia. The commonly used cards went in the front, the other cards went in the zipped pocket, I put the same pages in the rings and paper money behind the cards.

Belgravia, filled
The first thing I noticed was that although the card slots would appear to have easier access with the slant to them, it was hard to get cards in and out. That said, I don't think they had ever really been used so it could just be that they are stiff.
The second thing I noticed was that although there IS a pocket behind the cards, it was hard to get the paper money in/out of it.
The third thing I noticed was that although I measured the straps to be exactly the same length, the strap of the Belgravia was hard to close (as if it was shorter) than the one on the Cavendish (which closed very happily).

In general:
If you didn't want the binder to function as both a wallet and an organiser, then the Belgravia would be better, because it lies flatter and the lack of a pocket that works well for paper money wouldn't matter.
If you want to combine wallet and organiser, I would say that the Cavendish has it by a tiny margin. It doesn't lie quite so flat, but the zipped pocket on the outside is useful and the internal layout of the back cover is better than the zipped pocket of the Belgravia (to my mind).

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