Josh’s Mini Cross Meltdown!

Some days you just can’t win.

My short-lived Orange mini Cross
My short-lived Orange mini Cross

I was very inspired by several of the male filofax users who had deployed mini or M2 size binders to use as combined wallet and notes, or even wallet and full planner.   I generally have my personal Filofax with me, but it is not right at hand during all waking hours.  A wallet with pen and some notepaper inside sounded totally brilliant for capturing ideas, thoughts, things needing to be done, etc.  At work, I spend a fair amount of time out in the building and don’t usually carry my planner, so the mini-in-a-pocket seemed really ideal.

So I bought a NOS mini orange Cross from ebay.

Seller photo from the ebay listing
Seller photo from the ebay listing

This lovely little binder came in brand new condition, in its original box, with the original tissue paper.  I love the bright orange color!  I ordered a vinyl card insert to cut up for card slots to carry on the rings and a clever mini Zebra ballpoint pen.

And then I set it up as a wallet.  I even made a video (which you can see here).  It worked beautifully.  I had a wallet which could also serve for notes on the go.  I would jot quick notes all the time, and daily would transfer them into my main planner.  I did not try to duplicate my diary, which I’d tried to do during an earlier mini experiment.

But sadly it was not meant to be.  First of all, the modern minis are a bit too bulky to carry in a trouser pocket.  When you add the bulk of a wallet pocket, card slots, a zip pocket, and 13mm rings you end up with a pretty hefty object to stuff into pockets.

I prefer to carry my wallet in a back pocket, but could not carry a Filofax there for fear of sitting on it and crushing the rings.

But the worst bit was the leather coating.  I had thought that the Cross was immune to the peeling coating issue which seems so endemic with the subsequent Classic range.  But the very first time I opened the mini orange binder to fully open, the coating creased and delaminated from the leather.

And it just kept getting worse.  It began to resemble a snake shedding its skin with big, loose bubbles of clear coating separating from the leather.  It seemed to become worse every time I opened the binder.  It looked awful.  The cover was a mess.  It started to come loose inside too, near the rings, by the zipper, card slots… essentially anywhere where the leather flexed.

I spent an evening discussing with Tracy of The Crazy Suburban Mom, who had successfully removed the coating from her grey Malden.  She recommended I try to remove the peeling coating.

So I took cotton and some rubbing alcohol and started to work at it.  And the coating started to come loose, revealing the orange leather below.  I was nearly finished removing the clear coating when suddenly the orange color began to come loose as well!  I pulled and a huge chunk of color peeled off, revealing crappy-looking brownish leather beneath.

At this point I was both shocked and desperate.  I thought that, perhaps, a brown binder with orange contrast stitching would actually look quite nice, so I spent the next hour peeling orange coating off the leather.  Eventually I had a brownish binder with little flecks of orange remaining.

Not orange anymore!
Not orange anymore!

The brown leather is not very nice and really the result is too ugly to use.

For the moment, I am using a regular wallet which I was given as a Christmas gift instead.  And my mini pen fits into the fold, using the shirt clip to hold it in place, so I still have a pen with me at all times.  I have a few other tricks up my sleeve to manage my note-taking needs, but for the moment am just using the conventional wallet.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

13 thoughts

  1. I’m so sad to see the decline – as a long time filofax user especially. My first filofax, a personal Portland, was bought new at a high end department store and to me it’s what Filofax the brand and the organizer should always be. I suppose it is a ‘before outsourcing’ binder as none of the few I’ve purchased since even come close in beauty, durability and attention to detail. Maybe those are things that become lost in outsourcing – maybe it’s inevitable… It certainly seems to be acceptable. I don’t understand it personally – Where a binder is made shouldn’t matter but it seems to – very much.

  2. Bonded leather is a new term to me, back in the day I’ve heard this type of process called coated leather. The coating being a PU type substance, the use of an alcohol on that layer would indeed melt the plastic coating. Hence the first softening and then later would leave the surface either sticky or brittle and liable to crack off, as you have found.

    Is the Malden a coated leather as well then? I was considering one but if its coated at that price, I’m not so impressed. I felt a Malden in John Lewis store and it felt like a soft leather.

  3. I found the mini too big to comfortably fit in jeans back pockets. I was terribly sad about this as I so wanted it to work.

  4. Maybe you could try dyeing it??? I have seen some nice examples of ummm not sure what it’s called but like tie dyeing of leather notebooks. They look awesome. (Birdsall leather) Also I have horses so have had lots of leather and different types in my time……if you want a darker brown I used to put light leather in warm linseed oil to soak for a bit. If you want black try ravens oil. Not sure if it will work the same ( my leather was always full grain not thinned like so many leathers used in binders. Hope it helps in some way.

  5. I hadn’t thought about you not being able to sit on it because of the rings. That would definitely be a problem.

  6. Unbelievable! I can’t believe how the quality of Filofax has gone downhill so much. If it isn’t one thing it is another. I am just glad that mine are older and will be satisfied with the 7 Filofaxes I have (not counting ones that are other brands). I am worried about my A5 Kendal (thank you Canada Post for dropping the package on the bottom ring). I do love it very much so hope, with TLC, that it will be ok. “Old Faithful” is my Black Winchester 7/8″ bought in 1992. Sadly, it does not seem to be just FF that are having quality control problems. Hunter Boots are another sad example. Josh, I feel your pain.

    1. Sadly I think most big brands become victims of their own success sooner or later. Even Gillio has been plagued with quality issues lately and most of the big fashion houses suffered from the same when they started to outsource production to mass manufacturing as they became trendy. I have found that with many handbag brands as well.

  7. Oh, good grief! That’s an awful mess … I must admit that I am abandoning my experiment of using a pocket Pennybridge as a wallet. I liked the idea of cards and jotter in one place, but I have too many cards. And I never know what to do with loose change. It either distorts the organiser, or gets chucked loose into my handbag. I’m going back to my rinky-dinky Kipling purse, which has three compartments – one for money, one for loyalty cards and one for bank cards.

    1. I am a bit like you at the moment. I have been using my personal-sized Filofax as a wallet for almost a year and it has worked perfectly but now I am needing an A5 more and more so I may switch back to my ‘normal’ wallet. It is going to feel strange but there is no point to carrying two Filofaxes around at all times.

      1. I am turning my personal Malden into my ‘keep everything together’ organiser. I had a pocket one designed by the lovely Cordwainer Higgler people and am going to use that as my carry around in my bag jotter.

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