"It’s not a conventional wallet." We say this a lot, but what does it mean? What is a conventional wallet? Over the centuries, currency itself has changed dramatically, and the wallet has changed with it. As more people move away from carrying large amounts of paper money, minimalist wallets like the ones we make at Trayvax are gaining popularity. It’s not the first historical shift for the wallet.
Silverdale Hoard c. 900 AD - 910 AD, The British Museum, Ian Richardson
Even before the advent of money, people have needed to carry things with them. In lieu of pockets, pouches were used around the world for carrying small objects of value such as food, tools, and jewelry that could be traded. People began to carry shells, beads, and precious metals to barter with. Although standardized coins were a huge innovation, they were roughly the same size as these small bartered items, so the pouches people carried didn’t have to change much. One of the earliest coins, the Tong Bei found in China, was made to resemble cowry shells that had previously been used as currency. One of the first rulers to issue standardized coins as we know them was Alyattes of Lydia, an Iron Age kingdom in what is now western Turkey. The design of coins hasn’t changed much in the 2600 years since. From lions to eagles, from Roman emperors to American presidents—the flat, circular, inscribed coin was here to stay.
WWI Era Wallet and Contents c. 1914, Auckland Museum
Flat and foldable wallets began to appear in the 17th century in order to hold the increasing number of paper documents people needed to keep with them. This included journals, letters, receipts, and bank notes even before paper money was established as legal tender. By the time paper money came along, the foldable leather wallet was ready to carry it. And this design persisted for hundreds of years. It changed over time, becoming more dedicated to carrying money and cards, although many people still pack their wallets with pictures, receipts, and other pieces of paper.
With the rising popularity of credit cards and debit cards, it was inevitable that the wallet would change. Initially, this simply meant adding card slots into existing wallet designs. Today, many people carry little cash or no cash at all. These people need a fundamentally different kind of wallet. Instead of focusing on paper, modern wallet designs focus on cards—ID cards, credit cards, debit cards, access cards, payment cards, business cards, rewards cards, gift cards. That’s a lot of cards, and many people are trying to streamline their wallets to carry only the essentials. This is why minimalist wallets are so popular.
There may come a time when every card in your wallet can be replaced by an app for your phone. There may be a day when your phone can be replaced by neural implants. Until then, we are dedicated to making wallets that last for the modern world. For now, people still need wallets. When you buy one of our wallets, we want it to last so long that you never need to buy another one.
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