As times change, so does the stuff we carry. This New York Times article discusses the changing size and shape of wallets in the digital age. Found via the December 24,
2019 issue (Volume V, Number 27) of News & Notes from the Society of Paper Money Collectors. -Editor
... when Mr. Bray goes out at night, he takes just his ID, one credit card and a few business cards, tucked into a slim card case.
"Simplify your life," he said. "Nine out of ten times, if you have a bi-fold wallet, you've got crap in there you don't need. You've got a ticket stub from three years
This from a man who sells bi-fold wallets in four colors. But in recent years, the physical wallet's central role in our lives has been greatly reduced, as have the size of
wallets themselves. As tech companies have introduced mobile apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay in an effort to make the smartphone into a digital wallet, "real" ones — long a
fallback of the holiday gift season — are shrinking, or disappearing altogether. Some are becoming gizmos themselves, as if to seem more current: popping out cards with the press
of a button and offering benefits like locating services or radio-frequency identification (RFID) blocking, intended to protect against credit-card or identity theft.
For men, the classic multi-pocketed model is losing popularity to card cases like the one Mr. Bray carries. They aren't much bigger than a credit card, and slip easily
into a front pocket.
Mr. Capulong carries a leather card case by Veilance with only two pockets. "The seams are bonded, not stitched," he said. "So it's durable and minimalist. I keep maybe eight
cards total and a $20 bill folded twice so it takes no space."
Augusto Gomez, who was behind the Prada counter in the men's arcade inside Bloomingdale's Manhattan flagship on a recent afternoon, said wallets still ranked as a popular gift,
though there were no customers shopping for them at that moment.
For centuries, going all the way back to the introduction of paper currency in America in the late 1600s, the wallet has been a traveling bank vault and all-purpose file
cabinet for men and women, a place to keep checks, cash and personal ephemera.
"I remember my dad's wallet," said Leland Grossman, a strategist for a Manhattan-based creative agency. "He had receipts, cards, pictures and a million things. That was my
ethos originally. I kept a folded two-dollar bill. I had a Steve Jobs quote: ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.'"
A 1998 episode of "Seinfeld" known to fans as "George's Exploding Wallet" satirized this tendency to overstuff. The George Costanza character is carrying a wallet so engorged
with random items — Irish currency; a rewards card valid at any participating Orlando-area Exxon station — that he can barely close it.
"I need everything in there," George tells Jerry defensively at their favorite diner, before adding Sweet & Low packets to the jumble.
As if the physical wallet didn't have enough problems, there's now an accessory called the Wallet Slayer ($14.99): a sleeve that fits over your smartphone and holds three cards
To read the complete article, see:
The Incredible Shrinking Wallet
As noted in an earlier Numismatic Diary article, my friend Steve Bishop has my vote for the most Costanza-esque wallet I've ever seen. It's big, but neat and tidy.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: FEBRUARY 26, 2017 (https://www.coinbooks.org/v20/esylum_v20n09a23.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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