10 August 2011

Sit On These

Left to Right: Budd Crocodile, GJ Cleverley Russian, Rogue Empire Tartan

Budd's credit card case in a wallet

Certificate of Authenticity

225 year old leather - Smell the years

Green silk moire lining

Rogue Empire Tartan

My father brought back an elephant skin wallet from Vietnam. Not very PC, even in 1967, but it was masculine with it's black thick skin covered in ridges and a worn patina that molded the corners to my father's fourth point of contact.

When not in use, it lay on a white folded handkerchief on a teak Danish bureau in my parent's bedroom and while I'm not sure of this... I could swear a small halogen spot from above illuminated it in a blue tinged halo glow.

I went through a number of less serious wallets. Camouflaged wallets that closed with velcro and made a loud ripping sound when opened at a cash register. Leather tri folds that looked like brown plugs of chewing tobacco in Puckett's General Store in Huntersville.

I even had a Rolf's wallet from some Christmas in the '70s that was made from a corfam leather so hard it never did mold to my butt. At least not before I lost it with my military dependent I.D., a REI life time co-op card and a well worn B&W picture of a Dutch woman from a nudist magazine.

Naked women and men's wallets sure have changed. The croc wallet is from Budd and is a steal at $215. It comes with a small credit card case so, like a soldier with a ruck sack, you can drop the heavy stuff and drive on with the civilians equivalent of an LBE; Driver's license an ATM and credit card.

The center wallet is from George Cleverley and is hand made of 18th century Russian leather. It reminds me of my father's elephant wallet with oily ridges yet it has an instant patina of more than 225 years. There's a distinct smell that's not unpleasant but a little like smelling your leather watch strap after mowing the lawn. If you do that sort of thing. I paid $450, and I try to smell this wallet everyday.

The smell comes from the Russian tanning process where skins were soaked in pits of willow bark and then curried with birch oil. These skins were found next to a ship wreck on the bottom of Plymouth Sound and buried in black mud since 1786. It's an odd thing - carrying this much history next to my ass - yet despite my repeated offers to friends - to smell something from the 18th century - everyone turns me down.

The $58 tartan wallet comes from a young man in Chicago who decided he wanted to create wallets from discarded tie and suit fabrics. How green is that? Rogue Empire is a lotta fun. I'm not sure how these fabrics will take to the wear a wallet gets but the price is reasonable and they're lighthearted without looking childish. I'm not sure a man on a date wants to pull this out when paying for dinner.


Enzo AGC said...

The Russian stuff is actually Russian Reindeer skin and Cleverly and New & Lingwood are the only people on the planet that have it.

Brohammas said...

Leather from a 200 year old shipwreck!?!
Not only will I sniff that but I may mug you you for it. I loath carrying anything more than a card sleeve, but just the idea of history in my pocket has my re-evaluating everything.

Farmer Jones said...

I am writing this comment from the exotic locale of West Bend, WI!

Amity/Rolfs has left for foreign shores, but I've done my part for America by giving myself a Chester Mox wallet (via my son for Father's Day).

It's "horse front" and slim, with the seemingly needless addition of my monogram, because after all, why would someone else's wallet be in my pocket?

Anonymous said...

Two years ago I retired a P.O.S. Coach Outlet wallet..a misguided, yet still thoughtful gift from The Wife...and picked up a dark brown Buffalo wallet from Brooks Brothers. I had just finished lunch with the aforementioned wife and I stopped in B-Squared and saw the only nice, non-pleather wallet I had seen in any store in years that had the little plastic insert for pictures.

I had been carrying around my in utero daughter's sonogram picture for a few weeks and on impulse I dropped the $170 on the new, completely unnecessary wallet. For the record; a buck-seventy maybe chump-change in NYC, but it's real money in the Midwest.

Long story, long: the wallet has held up well and holds a dozen great pictures. And there's something about showing people actual photographs rather than fumbling around with an iPhone.


Unclelooney said...

I'm with Brohamm. Not only will I mug you, I'll chain that thing to my belt loop right in front o' ya.

Stu said...

what wonderful wallets, I have to enquire, will you be walking down any lonely dark alleys soon?

Emily said...

Love the wallets! They are great examples of the beauty of the vintage style. Nice choices!

Alice Olive said...

Oh my goodness. "I went through a number of less serious wallets. Camouflaged wallets that closed with velcro and made a loud ripping sound when opened at a cash register." Sadly, I went through that period, too. Why? Why?

NB: Love the crocodile (and that shot!)

Kionon said...

In my far trendier days, I had a Louis Vuitton that I beat the hell out of. When it finally fell apart, I bought a Kenneth Cole tri-fold in black. It was supposed to be temporary, and I don't think I spent more than $30 on it. That was at least six or seven years ago, if I remember correctly. Perhaps even longer.

It is probably one of the finest pieces Mr. Cole has ever made. Maybe I should not be surprised, as he is the grandson of Mr. Colehaan.

It's been dropped in puddles, fallen into swimming pools, nearly lost while sailing, and gone a few rounds with the washing machine. Despite all this (or because of it?) the leather looks, smells, and feels just amazing. The lining inside is still, somehow, immaculate.

I hope I never lose it or somehow damage it. It is a wallet that I believe, if cared for, even just a little bit, will be passed on to my offspring should I eventually get to that milestone in life.

Sometimes new designers/brands actually do get it right.

La Maison Fou said...


Your eye for the landscape of mpney holders is right on!Love the city in the background,there is something relative with wallets,green and the city being at one's fingertips!

Just talking about travel wallets last evening,my bettah half inherited a black African leather wallet from his grandfather to hold currency,passports and papers.
They just don't make leather products like those that can be handed down over time......
makes the safari somewhat more interesting ....I think.
Taking a piece of history and keeping it on the hip!
My hub's grandfather was a scruffy old man,he always left the house with at least a fifty "On the hip".

GSV JR said...

Good stuff. Man, I love those velcro wallets. Must have owned about six of them through middle school. Ocean Pacific, surfboard and palm tree motif. Lots of turquoise and fuchsia. It's like cheap tactile and visual ecstasy.

Patsy said...

Why do men smell leather? Is it only men or do I just not know any lady leather sniffers?

As soon as a new pair of shoes (or anything leather) enters our house, they are right up under my husband's nose.

In his defense, his father did own a leather glove company at one time....

ignorancearbitrage said...

I've been to West Bend and I can guarantee you the woman from that ad was definitely imported from somewhere else.

Kionon said...

You just don't know any women leather sniffers, Patsy. Both of my aunts (mother's sisters) ride horses. The younger has a ranch and is a western style rider. The middle has one numerous awards in dressage. My mother is the oldest and hates animals pretty much period. Both of my aunts sniff leather and say they can tell the quality of a saddle by the smell.