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Vintage and Vintage-inspired wallets

Updated on March 17, 2011

I always use vintage wallets. They are beautifully made with details you don't see in today's wallets. There's something timeless and elegant about them. Finding a beautiful vintage wallet in good condition can be difficult. Sometimes, with time, the stitching begins to disintegrate, and some I've found can smell of mildew from poor storage.When shopping online for vintage wallets, look closely at the pictures for dark spots or inconsistencies in the seams. Request photos of the inside of the wallet if none are provided--often the lining betrays what the outside leather may not, such as water stains, speckles of mildew, or general yellowing or hardening.

Thankfully there are some amazing vintage-inspired wallets being made today that have all the classic look of vintage, and often the same excellent materials, but without the "Where was this that it picked up this smell?" or "How much longer will this last?" qualities of real vintage.

Vintage-inspired clutch wallets

Types of wallets


The clutch purse originated in the Victorian era when women only needed a place to stash smelling salts and a handkerchief. They are small, elegant purses, and were eventually translated into long, elegant wallets through the insertion of organizational slots and pockets for change. They are sleek and look very sexy and feminine in a woman's hand, and are probably the most elegant wallet.

Many of the clutch wallets today have a mass-produced, utilitarian feel--anyone who's seen them in rows in a bin at the department store knows what I mean! There are some that maintain the same elegance of the past. Hobo International makes my favorites, although they are pricey. You do get what you pay for though; I always recognize a Hobo International wallet from across the room--they are so well made and designed and totally un-missable.

If you do want to go for the real vintage deal, these are available as well, though you can tell we've amped up the amount of stuff we have to carry--the older wallets generally have less organizational capability and can be thinner and generally smaller. Couple that with the hardening that happens with time, and you may have to do some serious editing to the items you want to bring. This can be rather freeing, however--see if you can get by with just lipstick and ID!!

The Princess Wallet

Largely from the 60s and 70s, the princess wallet is a great everyday wallet. It's small, so it won't take up much room in your purse (and can be slipped into a back pocket), but generally comes with its own coin purse and credit card organizer, so you don't loose any space. Plus, the included coin purse is invaluable--no more change clinking around in the bottom of your purse! The plethora of details on the flap--from stitching to silver studs to jewels--give an enormous amount of variety to these wallets, and I always have a few in a drawer because I can never resist an especially cute one at the flea market!

The Coin Purse

There is something so graceful about a coin purse. I love the small elegance of it in a woman's hands, the careful pinch to open the clasp, and the peering in with the gentle jingle of change. The smallness of the wallet forces the hands into very feminine shapes, plus it's a great way to carry change and any small good luck charms that you may not want to leave home without. Plus it can be a cute, compact accessory for a night out.

If you are going to use a coin purse for your wallet, make sure you find one big enough to hold your ID, credit cards, and other necessities. Coin purses are often too small for these staples and you'll end up with something you can't latch shut! Some women use a cigarette case or a business card holder to hold the plastic, with a coin purse to hold the cash. This can start to get cumbersome and difficult to manage, so be sure to take size and needed stuff into account when opting for one of these delicate accessories.


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    • The Gram Report profile image

      The Gram Report 6 years ago

      My wife is definitely a Hobo fan!!!

    • profile image

      Shar 6 years ago

      I just think those Eel Skin large coin purses are the greatest! You have ALL the colors too, which really surprised me! This coin purse makes an absolutely excellent gift for the lady that does AND doesn't have everything. Great gift for bridesmaids too! If a man doesn't know what small gift to get...its the Eeel Skin COIN purse.............lovely! Hmmmmmmmmmm

    • jonaitis profile image

      jonaitis 9 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi guest,

      I generally use Princess Gardner wallets for my daily wallet, (largely from the 60s) and I have never had a problem with fitting credit cards into the slots. Good luck on your search for the perfect wallet--ebay, flea markets, and thrift stores are your best bets!

    • profile image

      guest 9 years ago

      or since a main point of this post is "vintage inspired" wallets, shall i abridge to say....i don't like anything new, especially in leather goods, that i can remotely vintage seems the way to go...albeit a bit impractical if my modern-day stuff doesn't fit in it.

    • profile image

      guest 9 years ago

      i stumbled across this as i am looking for a new wallet and don't seem to like anything new as much as i do vintage....many of these ebay items are in my watch list. but i was you find that if a wallet is, say, from the 50's or 60' modern-day credit cards fit in the card slot(s)? i thought charge plates used to be smaller...not that i have very many credit cards, but as much as i like the vintage ones, i want them to fit.


    • jonaitis profile image

      jonaitis 9 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi SweetiePie,

      I love a clutch with a little strap! More secure and very handy! Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I love a beautiful wallet and clutches are very pretty. I like how some clutches have a strap on them and can double as a purse.