Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Review of the compact Holborn Filofax

With all these posts about the Traveller's Journal, you may have been thinking I had lost my love for Filofax. Not quite, though I really am itching to use the TJ sooner than 2016!

I'm still in my wine Holborn Filofax, having moved up a size after the compact de Villiers started to show signs of wear and tear (see here for details). At the start of April I was humming and hawwing about the wine Holborn and was still looking for a compact. I tried a compact Cavendish and although it was good, it wasn't quite right because it wouldn't lie flat. I tried a compact Belgravia and it wasn't really right at all. In this post, Steve (from Philofaxy) suggested a compact Holborn. At the time, I had just bought the Belgravia but now I've got a black compact Holborn and he may well have been right.

I bought the compact Holborn from Nigel O'Hara. I knew nothing about the company, but having waited so long from ordering to delivery, I cannot recommend this seller at all. From ordering to arrival was about 5 weeks and had I not been on to their customer services, I would have had no information about the order at all. Even them giving me a £5 voucher will not make me use them again. Anyway, it finally arrived at the end of last week.

First impressions
  1. it's not really black and the matte finish is nowhere near as nice as the shinier wine leather
  2. it has (had!) a flattability of 0/10

It's not really black. It's more matte dark charcoal grey and with the graining of the leather this is quite noticeable. It may respond well to a good dose of black leather polish but I've not done that yet. The contrast stitching is in grey and the leather polish might sort that out too. If you've followed my story with the Holborns, you'll know how much I dislike contrast stitching! That said, the wine Holborn is growing on me even with the contrast stitching.


It has had a flattability of about 0/10 i.e. it would not lie flat at all. Even with weights I was struggling to keep it open. I know how much that annoys me. I need my binder to lie open at my side without assistance or I won't use it. Feeling the cover, I can feel a thick card between the covers which seems to extend all the way around the binder. I've had the same feel of my wine Holborn (which lies absolutely flat as a bat but didn't quite when I got it) and although it feels the same, it will lie flat, even with all the contents on one side or the other.
Knowing that there is no way I will use the compact Holborn if it won't lie flat, I bent the covers back on themselves as much as I could. Repeatedly. It now (mostly) lies flat, though needs a few 'reminders' if it's been closed for a while. I know that sounds brutal, but I really can't be doing with a binder that won't lie flat! Tough love here!

Internal layout
This is similar to the wine Holborn but with a few important differences.
While the wine Holborn has six credit card slots and one big pocket, with the cards sitting horizontally, the compact has six vertical card slots and no bigger pocket. Behind the card slots there are both inward and outward facing pockets in both the compact and the regular sized versions.

In the back cover, there are inward and outward facing pockets in the compact, but no zipped pocket inside the outward facing one. The pen-loop in the compact is tucked into the outward facing pocket, but that might just have been how it ended up before being packed. The loop is about the same size as in the wine Holborn - i.e. it will take my Zebra diary pen (diameter 8mm) no problem but would struggle with anything bigger. The pen loop is also higher up - just above the closure strap in the compact, whereas in the regular sized version it is exactly where the closure strap is.

Slips of paper to indicate the pockets
Interior of wine Holborn for comparison

It came supplied with a regular, multi-language WO2P 2015 diary. Give me a shout if you want it! It looks like the cotton cream layout but on their normal, shoddy paper (actually, the cotton cream paper is just as shite) - 4 spaces per side, one for 'this week' and equal sizes for the days of the week. The irritating mini month diary (what is that for???) is in the 'this week' rather than in Sunday's slot, making Sunday's slot far more usable than normal.

Diary layout

After the diary came A-Z dividers. Again, free to a good home - just let me know if you want them. Then 4 sheets of to-do and 3 sheets each of lined paper (white), lined paper (blue), lined paper (lilac).

Like all my Filofax compacts, the rings are oval; 15mm x 11mm. Naturally, as it is a Filofax, one of the rings doesn't close perfectly, but none of them catch the paper in any way so perhaps I'm just being picky.

In use
I've transferred things across and will use it until the end of May. After that, I'll see! The card slots were very tight but they'll hopefully ease up a bit with use. I tried transferring everything from the rings of the personal Holborn, but unsurprisingly, the rings were a bit too full, so I've taken a few months of diary out and the dividers. I have paper money in the outward facing pocket at the front, stamps in the inward-facing pocket at the front and a couple of loyalty cards tucked into the inward facing pocket at the back. I have my Zebra diary pen in the pen loop (which has effectively stopped me using the outward-facing pocket at the back). It might be easier to close once I get rid of all the change I have in the zipped pencil case I have on the back rings - it is currently full of pound coins which are pretty bulky!

At the moment I'm a bit 'meh' about it but then, I was about the wine Holborn when I first moved into that. I would have liked it to be less matte and have better flattability but I may have sorted one with the bending of the covers and could probably sort the other with some black leather polish! It's lying flat at the moment (though is reluctant to close) - repeated use should make it easier, hopefully.

Keep you posted!


  1. I like the dark grey better than black. But the rings and the narrowness make it too tiny for me.

    1. The dark grey is growing on me... I was going to put black leather polish on it but haven't yet - I figured I should use it as it is for about a month or so before doing anything to it! The small rings and narrowness are why I wanted a compact - less brick-like!

  2. I have a slimline Holborn that I use as a wallet. It has held up for close to two years with little sign of wear. I love the chocolate brown color. I'm not sure if I would have liked the charcoal, but I've often been curious about the wine color. It has always been popular.