How many times do you go online looking for a leather wallet only to find yourself despondent about the minimal number of choices available? If you’ve ever actually looked, the answer is likely never. There are thousands of companies from huge corporate retail magnates to mom and pop shops in Michigan all peddling the same bi fold and tri-fold. They are cut from one piece of leather or two, faux alligator skin, finest saddle leather in the world, gold leaf encased “fine leather wallets”. Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with many of these options, except that maybe there are so many. The fairly simple reason for this market maelstrom of product: wallets are about the easiest thing to make from a piece of leather. Fold a piece over and sew it and you’re already halfway done. This is the challenging market climate the small, one-man outfit Craft and Lore finds itself in. It is the solo project of artisan Chad Von Lind, a budding fine-goods company based in the lake town Coeur d’Alene, ID. His product in question is “The Pilgrim Wallet,” a large wallet or small travel clutch intended for road trips, rugged expeditions, and the like.
The wallet is made from two pieces of solid leather: one 4 to 5 oz piece that forms the surrounding shell and structure of the wallet and a much thinner piece of ⅔ oz calfskin that separate the passport and notes compartment from your cards. The two are saddle-stitched together by hand using .35” waxed polyester cord, making the joint close to as sturdy as the leather itself. The closure is accomplished with an antique brass snap. Two pieces of leather were used in the construction of the entire piece. This traditional simplicity, though not uncommon in the leather-working world, greatly enhances the strength of the wallet. Although the supple nature of the material initially made me question its lasting power, it is in fact very strong, flexible, and will likely outlast me.
It is intended specifically for travel, in the style of a trucker’s wallet. It’s a little too big to fit into my back pocket comfortably, is not quite as streamlined as your everyday bi fold, and doesn’t hold bills all that naturally. On the other hand, none of these are the point. This wallet was designed to see you through a lot of gallivanting. My passport and field notes fit together like a glove along with about twenty plastics total. With only the passport and eight or nine cards there was still enough tension to keep everything in its place well enough. The aforementioned softness of the leather makes it a pleasure to both hold and behold, and the brass snap is satisfying enough. Personally I wouldn’t carry this around everyday without a bag or backpack, but can imagine that it would become indispensable on any adventure.
Von Lind is open about his love for “simple unassuming things that are built beautifully and built to last,” and that influence is clear in the wallet. The leather is a rich, solid dark brown with no flourishes save a thin pinstripe around the outside flap and a tasteful logo on the bottom right interior. At a glance the wallet might seem outdated; few have carried wallets this size since the west still needed settled. That all serves as part of the attraction though, once you realize it is meant to be a heritage relic, a fine piece of artistry in the new wave of modern-vintage. The piece as a whole screams Americana and minimalism both to great effect. In its simplicity it is elegant; in its elegance it is functional.
THE BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION
Along with a small fleet of similar creations, Craft & Lore has built a nice product out of great materials and simple construction. The wallet is geared toward travel oriented use and that intention should not be ignored; it would be a bit clunky as an everyday carry and would likely hold either much more than you needed or far too little. That being said, it is a good choice for a travel wallet and an attractive piece of leather-working. At $70.00 the price is a little steep considering the limits of its practical use. However, if you find yourself looking for a convenient and attractive place to keep your cards, cash, passport, and small notebook with a little money to spare, keep this traditional offering from Craft & Lore in consideration.