The History of Wallets

                Today’s means of exchange is money. Money comes in different forms. And the most significant form of money is paper money – in bills.

                There is no need to define what a wallet is. Everyone in his right mind knows what a wallet is. If you haven’t seen a wallet before or do not know what a wallet is, you must have been born and raised in some distant planet. But seriously, have you ever thought about how the use of the wallet came about? Who actually invented the wallet?

                Wallets, as a word, have been used by ancient people since the first century AD. It refers to a knapsack or a bag for carrying articles. The word is said to be derived from the Proto-Germanic. If you are familiar with the Greek tale of Perseus and how he killed Medusa, the sack where the hero placed the monster’s head and the sack carried by the god, Hermes was called kibisis. And it is now loosely translated today as “wallet”.

                If you are referring to the term being used as we know it today, then you could trace it back to the time of the American English in 1834. However, during this time, the word wallet was still used to refer to several other carrying objects.

                Now, to determine the roots of the wallet, AY Campbell, a Theocritean scholar tried to find out how the wallet was used in Ancient Greece. And he found out that the wallet was used by a poor man to stock his provisions. It could also happen that the owner eats out of the sack. But most of the references say that it is replenished to store provisions for the owner. It is some kind of survival pack for the owner.

                As time went by and the Renaissance period came about, metals or coins were now being used as a mode of exchange. And from here, the wallet has evolved from a pack of provisions to packs that could contain coins or sometimes, statements of accounts.

                In recollection of John Frampton, who lived as a merchant in the Elizabethan era, Lawrence C. Wroth called the pouch tied to the belt of the merchant as a “bowgett”. In today’s terms, we would know the word as budget. Now, this pouch or wallet was made of leather. And the merchant put his cash, book of accounts and some materials that he uses everyday in the pouch.

                In the 19th century, wallets were used to carry dried meat, money, some treasures or things that the owner would not like to be exposed. In America, it was thought to be semi-civilized when a person carried his wallet on his belt. Contrary to what we are accustomed to, if someone keeps his wallet in his pocket, he was deemed to be uncivilized.

And today, we now know several designs of wallets. Though, the bi-fold wallet with card slots was standardized during the early 1950s. This coincided with the introduction of credit cards. Velcro came on the scene during the 1970s.

                The image of the wallet still evolves and who knows how small or what it could contain in the future. But surely, it is very helpful to those who use it today.

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