The history of the wallet: how the money bag turned into a functional accessory Read more

0 комментариев


Fashion historian Milana Abieva spoke about the origins of wallets, as well as the influence of money on the development of this accessory, especially for the online magazine «Shipyards».

Despite the speed of technological progress and the emergence of a large number of new varieties of money (first credit cards in the mid-twentieth century, and now also crypto-currency), the wallet is still an extremely relevant and useful accessory. Many in the arsenal even have different options for wallets for all occasions: a large travel wallet, a more compact purse and a very tiny clip for banknotes or a special small wallet for bank cards.

Today we don’t even think about when this everyday attribute, so familiar to us, came into our lives. But the history of the wallet has more than one century. Like many modern accessories, during its existence, the wallet has undergone a large number of transformations, which I will tell you about today.


We can say that the history of the modern wallet dates back to ancient Greece. When leaving home for a long time, the Greeks took with them a small bag-pouch, tying it on their belts. True, this bag served not so much to store money, but to ensure that everything you needed was at hand. And the essentials, as a rule, were food and a knife. But especially dear to the heart and valuable things also often coexisted with such a “camping set”.

Such bags continued to exist for quite a long time, and in different cultures they had their own decor features. Well, to be used directly for carrying money and other valuables, such bags began during the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the memoirs of contemporaries of the era.

It was still tied to the belt and, depending on the level of wealth of its owner, could be made of fabric or very expensive calfskin, and also decorated with embroidery. However, money was still side by side with essentials, so you can’t call such an accessory directly a wallet.

The history of the wallet: how the money bag turned into a functional accessory

«Folder» made of leather

The appearance of paper money in the 1600s was the first impetus for the transformation of such a bag into a kind of modern wallet. Now, for carrying paper bills, a small folding folder, usually made of leather, was used. Such an accessory had several compartments — both for paper banknotes and coins, and often doubled or even tripled.

The history of the costume and all its elements give us a tremendous opportunity to trace how ideas about beauty have changed over the centuries, how fashion reflected the social life of society, and what techniques and skills the masters of their time mastered.

The history of the wallet: how the money bag turned into a functional accessory
The history of the wallet: how the money bag turned into a functional accessory

In this sense, purses from the 18th and 19th centuries amaze the imagination with their decor and craftsmanship. By this point, the wallet has become more than just a necessary accessory for storing money or a symbol of wealth. The wallet has become a real piece of art. Men’s wallets, made of smooth leather and looking so discreet on the outside, sometimes hid incredible beauty inside in the form of handmade embroidery, reflecting various scenes of everyday life.

Women’s wallets were often made of textiles, including the finest silk. Most often, such wallets visually resembled a reticule bag and had a decorative value. Inside, such reticules were equipped with compartments for storing various small things, including money. In the arsenal of women’s accessories, there were also pouches intended for storing coins. However, now such handbags, which had a silk handle, were worn, of course, in the hands. And they were often embroidered with the smallest beads, folded by craftswomen into intricate patterns.

Simplification for the sake of practicality

With the advent of the twentieth century and the acceleration of the speed of life, not only accessories began to change, but also the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bmen’s and women’s wardrobe in general. The ability to move more and more often not only within cities, but also between countries, the spread of personal transport, the development of aviation — all this made the constant carrying of money and documents almost necessary. In view of such changes, wallets began to rapidly decrease in size, as well as to simplify.

Already by the time the First World War began, men everywhere carried wallets in hidden inner pockets of a jacket or outerwear. As a rule, money and documents were stored in wallets. As well as photos of relatives and loved ones. Often in such wallets one could also find medallions from the collars of their favorite pets and even matches. Despite the fact that such a wallet was already very similar to the current version, after the war it still continued to evolve and change in size.

The history of the wallet: how the money bag turned into a functional accessory

And in the 1950s, with the advent of the first credit cards, purses found new compartments designed for the new so-called «plastic money». At that time, a good wallet made of high-quality expensive leather was considered one of the best gifts that could be presented to a man.

The culture of carrying not only money but also photographs of loved ones in your wallet still flourished. A little later, with the onset of the space age, and then also the hippie era, designers will increasingly experiment with both forms and materials from which wallets were made.

As credit cards became more common, wallets began to shrink in size and take on new forms — small wallets for credit cards, banknote clips, and miniature coin trinkets. The latter remain a very stylish accessory to this day — such key rings are often hung on a bag (both for men and women), but they are not always used for their intended purpose.

The history of the wallet: how the money bag turned into a functional accessory

As for women’s accessories, with the advent of the fashion for small reticules and clutches in the 1920s, the need for a purse disappeared. The handbags were so small that only a few bills, lipstick and a powder box interfered with them. And only in the second half of the twentieth century, when capacious and voluminous bags came into fashion, did women simply need a wallet.

With the acceleration of the pace of life and the development of women’s emancipation, handbags have increased in size and began to contain more and more essentials — this was also due to the fact that an increasing number of women began to occupy leadership positions and lead an active social life. Interestingly, by this time, designers were increasingly leaning towards creative and non-standard solutions. Therefore, women’s wallets began to take on the most bizarre forms — from wallets that repeat the shape of fruits and vegetables to heart wallets.

The history of the wallet: how the money bag turned into a functional accessory

Our days

In the early 2010s, the trend for small handbags, the so-called «purses on a chain», became widespread. The internal structure of such an accessory is in many ways reminiscent of a classic wallet with compartments for bank cards and paper money, a zippered pocket and a small space for lipstick and a mirror. Such handbags have become a very fashionable and functional accessory that allows women to travel light.

Fashionistas especially fell in love with this accessory due to the fact that, thanks to the removable strap, such a wallet can be worn during the day, thrown over the shoulder, and in the evening it can be used as a clutch. Today, a waist bag has become a kind of interpretation of the wallet, which also often has compartments similar in functionality to a classic wallet, but also allows you to accommodate other necessary little things.

Despite the fact that there are a lot of variations on the theme of purses and wallets, the classic versions are still the most popular. Fortunately, now manufacturers offer options for absolutely every taste and, importantly, for every occasion. For the most capricious, there are wonderful transformer wallets. You can carry such a wallet with you during the day, and in the evening, going to a party or a cafe, you can take with you only the inner banknote insert with the most necessary things.


Добавить комментарий

Ваш адрес email не будет опубликован. Обязательные поля помечены *