The Story of Wallets: Origin & Evolution - Travelsleek

The Story of Wallets: Origin & Evolution

Wallets don’t need a special introduction. It is a double-folded case that we cannot go a day without as it holds all our cards, cash, and documents. Out of all essential items in our daily lives, the wallet takes a front seat. More so, over the years it has also become quite a fashion statement. One might think it's only been recent but wallets have a long evolutionary line. Supposedly, it came into existence ever since mankind felt the need to carry things around.


People tend to think that the invention of wallets was around the time when paper money was introduced in the world. But, for centuries we had small purses to carry coins for trade and purchase. In the early times, people used to keep small, fabric packs with drawstrings, which they tied to their belts. This is traced way back to the Archaic Period when the ancient Greeks had boxes called ‘knapsacks’ for holding food, and other essential items for the day. One of the oldest examples of a wallet found in the world belongs to 3300 BC.

It is believed that the word ‘wallet’ originates from the Greek word Kibisis, meaning a sack that is carried around. Over time it has transformed into the word ‘wallets’. It mainly came into use around the mid 17th century by Americans as they began using a familiar shape of the modern version of bifold wallets. This was the time when the paper currency was invented in Massachusetts and modern wallets were born. The need to carry coins around your waist reduced and square-shaped pouches started becoming more popular. The wallets were still attached around the waists but the purses came in much more variety. This eventually led to wallets being more of a fashion statement. By the mid-1800s people associated wallets with one’s worth in the world, the thicker the wallet with loaded cash, the more status one possessed. 

It was only 100 years later that the standard wallets arrived. The modern bi-fold wallet was created and became popular instantly. It was essentially because of the introduction of charge cards. At that time, we had separate cards for every other service and the need for more compartments in our wallets arose. That’s how the modern wallets had compartmentalization and became more comprehensive. One could carry all their cash, cards, and accessories on a daily basis. While men carried compact and studier wallets, women had wallets that were a little larger and fashionable. 

Today, wallets have become much more versatile. From the touch of minimalism to a trendy style statement, every wallet comes in varied fabrics, colors, designs, and more. They are now super sleek, slim, and portable for both men and women. Everyone needs a wallet these days and it is still evolving. Even in this technological world, our bi-folded wallet is a go-to indispensable accessory. And looking at its historical significance, carrying a wallet feels like keeping a part of history quite alive.