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The Evolution of Wallets and the Best Brands in 2021

CEO Tinh Phung
Wallets, a necessity in our daily lives, have come a long way from their humble beginnings. The history of wallets can be traced back to ancient times when they served a different purpose and had...

Wallets, a necessity in our daily lives, have come a long way from their humble beginnings. The history of wallets can be traced back to ancient times when they served a different purpose and had a different form. Let's delve into the fascinating evolution of wallets and explore some of the best brands in 2021.

The Origins and Purpose

Wallets have been around since the dawn of civilization, albeit in different forms. In ancient times, wallets were more like bags or pouches used to carry coins, metals, or essentials. As society evolved, so did the purpose of wallets. With the introduction of paper currency, a new design emerged - the bifold wallet. This design was specifically tailored to store and facilitate the use of paper money.

However, even before the existence of currency, wallets were already in use. They resembled larger pouches or bags made from animal hides or fabric, allowing for the storage of various items and provisions.

Ancient Wallet Image: A depiction of an ancient wallet

The Etymology: A Journey to the Greeks

The word "wallet" finds its origins in the ancient Greek word "Kibisis," which referred to a bag carried by the god Hermes. Over time, the word evolved and was translated into "wallet" in English. The use of the word to describe the flat, small wallet we are familiar with today began in 1834 when Americans started using the term "wallet" to refer to a money holder.

Greek Wallet Image: Wallets used by the Greeks

Wallets in Ancient Times

The discovery of a wallet dating back 3400 years ago belonging to Ötzi, also known as the "Iceman," serves as a testament to the early origins of wallets. This wallet was found hanging from Ötzi's waist and indicates the need for a practical solution for carrying necessities while freeing up hands for activities such as hunting.

Wallets Among the Greeks and Romans

The Greeks and Romans used various types of wallets, either visibly hanging from their waists or concealed within their garments. Archaeologists have discovered numerous wallets in Greek and Roman sites, including the famous city of Pompeii, which revealed the prevalence of wallets for carrying metal coins. These discoveries highlight the importance of early wallet designs in these ancient civilizations.

During this period, wallets were small bags made from goat, cow, or horse leather or double-layered fabric. They were fastened with strings and worn around the neck or tied to a belt, especially when carrying heavy objects or supplies.

Wallet in Ancient Times Image: An ancient wallet

The Emergence of Paper Currency

The 17th century witnessed the familiarization of wallets as we know them today, primarily due to the advent of paper currency in 1690. Explorers like Marco Polo brought the concept of paper currency from the East to the Western world. The introduction of paper money reduced the need to carry coins around the waist, leading to smaller, square or rectangular wallets. By the mid-19th century, sleek flat wallets became popular among the middle class, who used them as a symbol of their wealth.

During the Renaissance, wallets came in various shapes and designs, with some being simple and others more ornate. As they were still worn around the waist, wallets became more noticeable and increased the risk of theft.

Paper Currency Wallet Image: Wallets during the emergence of paper currency

Wallets in the 19th Century

The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century paved the way for the widespread use of wallets, especially in America. Men used wallets not only to carry money but also for daily essentials like smoking paraphernalia. In Spain, wallets were used extensively, resembling large leather pockets for the items needed to be carried.

The Contemporary Wallet

The modern wallet we use today began to take shape in the mid-1900s, coinciding with the rise of cards. Before the availability of modern credit cards, there was a need for multiple cards. These early wallets had to accommodate various purposes, such as restaurant cards, travel cards, and more.

With the rise of credit cards in the 1950s, wallet designs changed to accommodate these changes. The focus shifted from solely carrying money to creating compartments for cards. The contemporary wallet became bifold, trifold, or even multifunctional, meeting the demands of the modern world.

Contemporary Wallet Image: A modern wallet

Top Wallet Brands in 2021

In the modern era, several brands stand out for their quality and craftsmanship. Here are some of the best wallet brands in 2021:


Montblanc needs no introduction. Established in 1906, the brand embodies luxury, beauty, and elegance. Since 1926, Montblanc has been producing exquisite leather wallets.


Hentley wallets are meticulously handcrafted using luxurious Italian leather. The brand offers stunning designs that can accommodate both cards and cash while maintaining their elegant appeal.

Harber London

Harber London caters to those seeking something unique. Their wallets are luxurious, contemporary, and practical. Despite their slim design, they can hold up to 16 cards.

Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta has been producing high-end leather goods since 1966, known for their impeccable craftsmanship and signature woven leather designs.


Bellroy epitomizes meticulous craftsmanship, evident in every detail. This Austrian brand uses the finest European leather to create wallets that come with a three-year warranty.

Wallet Brands Image: Wallet brands in 2021

Wallets have evolved from a practical necessity to a fashion accessory. While electronic payment methods dominate the world today, the wallet remains an integral part of a man's daily attire.

Sources: 1, 2, 3