This time around we’re going to take a look at a very luxurious combination of leather products from J Michael Ashland – the Pocket Wallet and Brass Key Fob. These are the third and fourth pieces that I get the privilege of reviewing for J Michael Ashland. Be sure to check out his Steerhide Belt and his Mini Bifold Wallet reviews too.
About J Michael Ashland
J Michael Ashland is a designer and full time minimalist leather crafter. From his location in northwestern Oregon he designs and crafts all of his products 100% by hand – no power tools, no machines…at all. Currently J Michael is designing and making several types of belts, wallets, cardholders, and other accessories. And, he’s producing them at a very high quality level that you will immediately appreciate once you are able to touch, feel, see, and use his creations.
In J Michael’s own words: “cut from a hide by blade, marked with dividers, pricked with irons, skived, beveled, saddle stitched with needles, burnished by hand, and then finished with natural oils and Oregon beeswax.”
In keeping with his dedication to using only the best “ingredients” in his creations, the Pocket Wallet is made from Horween Chromexcel. The thread is Tiger thread, which is the same as what he uses on all of his belts, wallets, and key fobs. Tiger thread is thick, bonded, waved, and U.V. coated. It’s also unable to be used in machines. So, all of the stitching is done by hand. When you get your own wallet or belt from J Michael, take a look at the even stitching and the thickness of the thread. It’s very labor intensive and it will give you a greater appreciation for J Michael’s dedication to creating all of his products 100% by hand without the use of any machines.
When the wallet is opened up, facing you, you have one pocket on the right that’s made to carry frequently used cards. Underneath, folded cash. On the left – two pockets for cards. The pockets are a little taller to protect the magnetic strips and designed for the general preservation of the cards. Another nice feature is that J Michael has widened the bend/break area so that even when the wallet is full, it still lays flat.
The matching Brass Key Fob is made from with two types of leather – a thick slab of belt leather in the middle and is wrapped with pieces of Horween Chromexcel. It also includes the same thick, great looking stitching. The brass components are heavy duty and look as if they’ll last forever.
Take about 90 seconds and watch this video. J Michael walks through several of the design elements of his Pocket Wallet in order to give you a solid grasp on its functionality and design.
The Pocket Wallet is an expertly designed piece. It’s clearly evident that much thought was put into the design, layout, and function-ability of it. In spite of its small footprint, it will carry a very large amount of cards and cash with ease. Currently it has 14 cards and seven pieces of paper currency in it. And, there’s room for more if needed. It’s also not a gigantic lump in my back pocket, it still measure under .75” (actually between .6” and .75”).
The Brass Key Fob is also a welcomed departure from many of the key fobs I’ve encountered in the past. My previous experience with key fobs always ends in irritation…because they aren’t long enough. I don’t want to clip my keys to my belt loop and walk around with them rattling away…it reminds me of Mr. Weise – the very kind, very fastidious janitor at my elementary school. He had a jingly set of keys attached to his belt loop that always gave him away…you could hear him coming before you ever saw him. The Brass Key Fob from J Michael is 7” overall, which allows you to clip it to your belt loop and have your keys rest silently in your pocket, which is PERFECT! The Key Fob is made with thick leather that at first is pretty stiff. However, within just a couple weeks of use, it has softened up nicely. However, it’s sturdy enough to assure you that it will not fall apart…ever.
There are no surprises here…both of these pieces look fantastic. The black leather with black thread on the Pocket Wallet looks fabulous. The same holds true with the Key Fob. Both sport J Michael’s logo and signature sailing vessel placed in tasteful locations. As these pieces wear over time they will continue to look great. Both pieces are also available brown and the Pocket Wallet is also available in an attractive natural color.
At $100 the Pocket Wallet is a bit more expensive than many of the wallets we have reviewed so far. However, its price is not out of line either given the nature of its design and construction. The J Michael Ashland Pocket Wallet is built to last for decades. If there was ever a Buy It For Life wallet, this is it. The Brass Key Fob is an excellent add-on, which will serve you well while looking great, and at $30 is a bargain in my opinion.
Also, be sure to enter the giveaway that we’re hosting – it’s free to enter and you’ll win three terrific leather products from J Michael Ashland.