The Flat Head Shell Cordovan Card Holder Wallet Review

I used to hate wallets. They are one of those items that every man pretty much has to have in the modern world and I could not stand this fact. They were uncomfortable, were difficult to get out of my pockets, looked ugly, and fell apart after a year or two. After trying and failing to buy my own wallets for several years, I eventually gave up and let family members buy them for me and in fairness to them, they didn’t do any worse of a job than I did. Even after losing my raw denim virginity, I was still using a crappy Dockers wallet because all of the high end wallets from raw denim brands were almost always massive trucker wallets or overly-large bi-folds.

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Finally, one fateful day around two years ago, I came across what looked like the perfect wallet for me at Self Edge in Los Angeles. In addition to their trucker wallets that are in fact as large as a Peterbilt, The Flat Head also had a very small and sleek card holder wallet on display at the store. As soon as I saw this one, I fell in love with it. Made out of shell cordovan from the inimitable Shinki tannery, lined with pigskin, and sewn by hand with cow tendon thread, this small wallet is equal parts luxerious as high end champagne and tougher than a Challenger 2 tank.

DSCF7361Most of the marks on the back are from receipts that I stuff in my pocket

While I usually prefer brown, I went with the black wallet because of how beautiful the red pigskin lining looked with the black cordovan. What really caught my eye, however,was the beautiful brass plate on the front of the wallet. It adds a very unique look to the wallet that I really enjoy and helps it stand out from the other wallets in the raw denim universe. The best part of this plate is how gorgeously it has aged over the past couple of years. The rest of the wallet has not aged too much because it’s cordovan, but it has gotten some patina over time. It still feels just as tough as when I bought it, the stitching is perfectly intact and has only become more beautiful thanks to the indigo from my jeans rubbing into it. There are some small nicks and aging that can be seen, but I personally believe that it looks better than ever and most importantly, it does not appear to be any closer to the end of its life than it did when I purchased it.

DSCF7365The red pigskin lining is gorgeous

DSCF7363The brass plate continues to get better with age

Of course, I did not purchase this wallet simply because it was beautiful and durable. The reason I pulled the trigger was because it was small. At 2.75″ x 4″ closed, it is indeed tiny. Even with a full amount of card and cash inside of it, I have very little trouble getting it out of my front pocket which is a huge improvement on the situations that my old standard bifold wallets put me in where I would often have to stand up at a restaraunt just to get my wallet out of my jeans which was even more emberrasing given the type of wallet I was pulling out.

Despite the small size, it can carry a surprising amount of plastic and paper. It is cleverly designed to have two inside pockets as well as a pocket on the back. If I wanted to completely fill it, I could fit 8-10 cards and 10 bills, though it may not close as fully. However, one of the great aspects about this wallet is that it has inspired me to cut back on what I think I need to carry. Right now, I have my debit card, license, insurance card, two work debit/gas cards, and my gym membership (I really need to use this more) all in the two inside pockets. With this setup, the wallet nearly feels as if nothing is inside of it and is very slim. With the outside pocket free, I can stuff as many bills as I could conceivably need to with no problem, though you do have to fold them into thirds to get them to fit.

DSCF7364The space to push your cards out has been useful more than once

For some, however, this will not be enough space. It’s as adept at carrying coins as a fishing net and if you like to carry a lot of cash, this is not the best wallet for you. I was able to carry the massive amount of cash I took to Japan for 9 days with no issue whatsoever, but that was only because I removed all the cards except for my liscence and debit card. This really is more of a Millennial’s wallet. When I showed it to the guys at The Flat Head in Japan, they noted that they call it a card holder in Japan and only in the west do people actually use it as a wallet.

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It is for people who, like me, despise carrying and using cash and prefer to conduct transactions in a similar way to Spongebob Squarepants when he said “I’d like to buy that piece of plastic with this piece of plastic.” This wallet is perfect for the people who not only relate to that reference, but also watched that episode and actually get the reference.* It is also perfect if you are a guy like me who works a white collar job during the day and wears blue collar clothing at night and on weekends. Fortunately, I am a guy like me so I can put this wallet in my suit jacket pocket during the day and then put it in my reproduction 1937 jeans pocket at night.

DSCF7371The hand stitching is beautifully done

The final factor that lead me to purchase this wallet was the price. At $220 for a shell cordovan wallet made by arguably the best of the denim/workwear wallet brands, this is the most affordable way to get a cordovan wallet that is pretty much guaranteed to last your entire lifetime and beyond. As I mentioned before, the craftsmanship could not get any better. I have had the good fortune to visit the Stockburg leather factory where The Flat Head makes all their wallets and while I will go into more depth in a future article, I can confirm that everything is done by hand with impressive skill. The holes are punched, the stitches are stitched, and the edges are finished all entirely by hand. Hell, they still use the lighters in their pockets to burn the edges of the threads when they finish the stitching! The only ‘machine’ is a press for the logos that must be moved, operated, and adjusted completely by hand. The price may be high for such a small wallet, but I have seen the craftsmanship firsthand and I can say that it is top notch.

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So far, this has been one of my better purchases throughout my entire life. This was the wallet I had needed for years and I have yet to be disappointed by it. It is small, functional, fits what I need, ages wonderfully, looks gorgeous, uses the best materials, and is made to the highest level by hand in Japan. Maybe one day I will go all out and get a giant trucker wallet, but until then, this is all the wallet I need.

 

 

*the episode is Whale of a Birthday from season four which is unfortunately the season where the show began to decline, but that episode itself is pretty funny. Boys Who Cry is a pretty on point boy band parody.

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