Friday, April 26, 2013

A - Z Challenge: W is for Wallet

By: William G. Muir
So I thought today I would try writing something simple...I mean about something simple. About something so mundane, an item that most all of use every single day, an item we never give second thought to. I want to talk about, the wallet.

But what do I say about the wallet? It is such an ordinary object that it doesn't bring any real thoughts to mind. It is therefore a challenge I am willing to accept.

I guess I could start off by talking about my wallet. There is just one problem, there is nothing to talk about. My wallet is so underwhelming if I was to have my wallet lifted, the pick pocket would only be getting practice. My wallet basically has nothing in it. At the moment there no money in it, no credit or bank cards, no photos of family members. Besides my drivers licenses and social security card.

Good luck trying to steal identity, it won't get you anywhere.

No my wallet is just your standard black leather billfold. A very thin, black leather billfold. Compared to the very thick wallets that my friends carry around, mine looks as if it sick, or underfeed. But that's ok, I really have no desire to have my wallet look like a mini exposition took place in it. My father use to keep receipts, all sorts of those punch cards for free items, fast food game pieces, and other unidentifiable things in his. Tucked away in one the little compartments would be his money, all folded up.

Plus his wallet was a tri-fold wallet. That helped make it look even fatter.

So this post got me to thinking about the history of wallets. Who was first the person to carry one? That we probably will never know. What I was able to discover was that the wallet we use today in no way resembles wallets throughout history. Going all the way back to Greeks, a wallet was more like a bag of sorts. 

The fact that the people of antiquity would refer to a sack as a wallet does not strike me as odd. If you think of the kind of money they used back then, it makes perfect sense. There were no paper money as most of the world's population used today; the ancient Greeks used coins. And there is no way that they were going to fit all their coins into one of our wallets today, even if they had the built in change pouch.

Coins were not the only thing people would carry around in there wallets back then. Classicist A. Y. Campbell deduced that the wallet was the poor man's portable larder; or, poverty apart, it was a thing that you stocked with provisions. He thought of it was something like a survival pack.

In 19th century America it was thought that carrying a wallet or other such items in ones pocket was uncivilized. To be considered even semi-civilized one needed to carry their wallet attached to their belt.

In Spain a wallet was used for carrying a person smoking paraphernalia. Inside a man would have his flint and steel, his rolling papers and something know as yesca, a dried  plant fibre.

What we Americans refer as to a wallet also started showing up in the 19th century. It was in the 1950s that slots for cards were added when the first credit cards start being issued. And during the 1970s Velcro was added so one could easily open and close their wallet.

So there  you have it, a brief look at the history of the wallet. If you were to talk a look at my wallet you would probably think it to be some antique. What with it fraying edges, stitches that are busting apart and the fade state of the leather. But none of that matters to me, I have had the same wallet for nearly twenty years, and as long as it holds together, I will not be getting rid of it any time soon. 



  1. "He who steals my purse, steals trash." -- William Shakespeare. Or somebody like that.

  2. How interesting that carrying a wallet used to be considered uncivilized. I love the description, "a poor man's personal larder."