The Historical Journey of the Wallet: How We Started Using Wallets?


It should not be surprising for us that the wallet, which is the most important part of our daily accessories, emerged in the early days of human history. The first wallet, which is the primitive version of the wallet, which has become an integral part of us today, was born out of necessity at the beginning of human history and has survived since then. Today it has become a status symbol and even a fashion emblem. Do you wonder how wallets, which are the last thing most of us check before leaving home, and which have become a necessity for daily modern life, have traveled from the past to the present?

How Was It Start?

Although some claim that it is derived from the word “kibisis”, the word used to describe the sack carried by the god Hermes, the origin of the word wallet is uncertain. The meaning of the word wallet, denoting a flat purse used to carry valuables, became what we know today with the emergence of paper money.

The main purpose of use of the pieces of fabric, which we can define as the first wallet, mostly people tied to their belts or waists with a rope, was to store the coins used at that time or perhaps to carry their daily meals. The wallets that we think we use today only to store paper money, credit cards or our identities were actually used long before the invention of paper banknotes. Wallets, whose roots go back almost to the Archaic Period, were used as lunch boxes rather than carrying money at that time. Apart from that, it was an object in which people who had to migrate or travel frequently, put their valuable and small belongings, notebooks.

How Did It Continue?

In the 1800s, wallets gradually began to adapt to evolving conditions. It has now been used to carry tobacco and cigarette accessories, especially in England, rather than just holding small items, coins or food. In fact, wallets were used as a cigarette case for a period before they evolved into their modern form. With the developing new world order, it has started to be seen as an uncivilized behavior for people to carry food in their “wallet”. And this is an old tradition from the beginning of human history to the 1800s. In addition, it has become the old-fashioned way to carry the wallet by attaching it to a belt or tying it to the waist. In this period, wallets started to turn into a design similar to today’s modern form. Foldable, pocket-sized products started to be produced from different materials.

Although the use of leather dates back to the Middle Ages, leather products became more accessible to people with the Industrial Revolution. New technologies emerging in the process enable us to improve on the way materials used can be painted, lubricated and protected in a way that enhances wallet styles and increases options.

Where Are We Today?

Even in the modern form we use today, wallets are not completely out of date. Personalized, precious objects in which we store valuable materials for us, no longer an accessory in which we carry food or store our coins. With the modernizing world, many different versions of wallets such as washable, waterproof, patterned, colored and thin have emerged. Especially with the invention of the credit card in the 1950s, wallets have undergone a real evolution in design. Special slots have been added where we can not only put paper money but also our credit cards and identity cards. Especially in the last few years, many different models from two-fold and three-fold wallets to smart phone wallets have been introduced to consumers. Although all kinds of wallets are produced for all kinds of needs at the point we have reached today, it seems that the “leather” wallets from the Ancient Greeks will never go out of fashion.