What was the First Metal Wallet Ever Made
A Historical Look back through Time
It’s hard to think that as little as 10 years ago the idea of a wallet made from metal was insane. Wallets on the main have stayed the same for the best part of a century usually being made from leather or fabrics and taking the form of the classic bifold (or billfold) wallet. But things have changed quite rapidly over the last 10 – 12 years. With the rise of the internet and changes in the way we view and see cash shifting, it’s only normal that investors and entrepreneurs have gone beyond to create stylish, modern wallets built for the 21st-century man.
The big questions that have been on my mind have to do with the history of the wallet, specifically the history of the modern era of wallets. The likes of Ridge, Secrid, and Ekster have quickly risen to prominence to become huge industry leaders, but I want to go further back. Which brands were trying to change the market but failed? Which came close but did work out? These are the questions we’ll be answering in our new series on a historical look back at why the wallets we use today (2023) came to be.
An early Ridge Wallet video showcasing its features. Now the most popular wallet brand in the world.
What’s this Metal Wallet Everyone’s Talking About?
The origin of the first metal wallets isn’t clear, but there’s one thing for sure – it was the famed Ridge Wallet that popularised the idea of a wallet being made out of something other than metal. But let’s take a step back and see what other options we had, before the Ridge’s conception back in 2013, for a stylish, small, and most importantly metal wallet. It took some time searching the internet before I stumbled across examples of metal wallets that predate 2013.
My search started on Kickstarter. It was around the early 2010s that wallets became a kind of trend on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. So much so, that whatever bizarre idea you may have had for a wallet, good or bad, the chances are it would have been funded with flocks of people trying to get in on this new craze. One example of this was the Omega Wallet which took a design not too dissimilar to the famed Ridge Wallet. This wallet was put on Kickstarter around 2012/13 and was scheduled to be shipped to backers in April 2013.
This was around the same time as the Ridge was also on Kickstarter so it’s unclear who was the very first metal wallet to hit crowdfunding sites. As I continued to explore I discovered a whole host of other examples all dating from 2012/12 including the likes of the Ping Wallet, and Keylet wallet that all took this iconic design with a metal frame, money clip/elastic strap, and minimalism in mind. To better understand if anything predated these Kickstarter success stories I had to look elsewhere.
1. Zippo Steel Wallet (2012)
Zippo is best known for its long history of producing lighters. But did you know that in 2012 they had a brief stint of producing an innovative part metal wallet? Neither did we but looking back at articles at the time and discovering the so-called Zippo Steel Wallet on the Wayback Machine showcased an unusual wallet made from a combination of plastic and metal. This metal wallet wasn’t like the typical minimalist-style metal wallets we know today but took the shape of a typical bi-fold wallet.
That’s right Zippo created a wallet that had all the functionality you’d normally get from a bifold but it is all within a hard case style design with a metal outing and plastic innards. The Zippo Steel Wallet itself, which you can read more about in our full article here, clearly wasn’t that successful as it was quickly discontinued in the coming years. That being said, it was a fantastic example of innovation at the time and attempting to use not-so-common materials to create something entirely different.
2. Stewart/Stand Wallet (2007)
The Steward steel mesh wallet is something that I discovered not too long ago (earlier this year). It had me very excited at the time as this was the first example of a metal wallet I had come across as far back as 2007. Again, like the Zippo, this wallet wasn’t attempting to create an entirely new design but take the popular bi-fold design and incorporate metal elements. In the case of the Stewart Wallet, they used a metal mesh-like material, tightly woven and similar to what I’d describe as chain mail.
This created a metal wallet that was similar in its flexibility to the likes of leather and other fabrics but also had the durability and strength of metal. Not only this but RFID Blocking was just becoming a new fear among many and the natural properties of the metal helped protect those who used the Steward wallet. Today, the Stewart wallet is no longer available to purchase but their website is still accessible with the link provided below.
3. Winner Bank200 Wallet (2006)
The Winner Bank200 is another example of a wallet whose main feature/selling point wasn’t to be made from metal – but it just so happens to be! The use case for this wallet is very small with it designed to help gamblers ‘quit while they’re ahead’ a save money while in a casino. It used a locking mechanism that allowed money to be interested but not removed with no way of accessing it without a key (which you’d need to leave at home).
Once your budget had run out, it made it impossible to run to an ATM to withdraw more hopefully saving yourself from a crude addiction. As with the others mentioned on this list, the Winners Bank200 is only partly designed with metal accents, and its choice of material was chosen due to its strength preventing people from breaking the wallet to gain access to its cash. Either way, it’s a novel idea and of its time.
Reviewer of Wallets
Hi, I’m James and I’m the owner, author, and self-proclaimed ‘wallet expert’ here at All The Wallets. I’ve been reviewing wallets for over 10 years and have amassed a collection of over 500 wallets. I’m here to provide you with impartial reviews, information, and news on men’s wallets from across the world. All The Wallets is here to provide you with a trusted source, and directory of some of the biggest and smallest wallet brands and help you make the best decision possible when choosing your next wallet. Learn more about me here.
We ask the simple question: ‘If Telsa made a wallet, what would it look like’? We explore the various options on the market in 2023.
We take a closer look at the new collaboration between wallet brand Ekster and the legendry soccer player Messi.
We take a look at the steel mesh wallet (stainless steel) and look at its history, legacy, and why it failed in the market.