Minimal wallet

Since everyone is on a minimalism kick recently, I decided that my Costanza wallet had to go:

Hlaska Nominal Merge Wallet

Hlaska Nominal Merge Wallet
San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G and Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D, Canon 500D
8 exposures, 1/60sec @ ƒ5, ISO200, 50mm and 85mm

This was taken inside a light tent with my SB-800 flash pointed backwards and an LED light array underneath. No real setup, just some overzealous light bouncing around.

When we were in their flagship store on the Filmore, I had flackette pick out my wallet. When I got home I realized she picked out the same one that I bookmarked a year and a half ago. If you don’t live in the Bay Area, you can also purchase their goods online at various design stores.

I didn’t think to take any photos of the place while I was in the store. I should have since they do their cash register is an executive desk with an iMac 19″ embedded below the desk surface running a copy of Windows in order to do the point-of-sale software. It looked like a big old ergonomic mess, and I asked if it was as stylish-yet-unfunctional as it that seemed. Apparently, according to the clerks, my hunch was right. I guess someone saw Tron too many times.

The wallet has a magnetic money clip and could hold about 8 cards if you really try hard—I have four in there and it’s pretty tight. The animal skin is ostensibly from Italy, but it’s stitched in China. Since the stitching is done with a machine, the threads are pretty tight—not as nice as my Hirano camera case, but what is?

People always ask me about the metal thing is the center of my wallet—It’s a Wallet Pen. I highly recommend them, though I replace the ink with a Fisher universal multi-pen refill.

We’ll see how long I last without membership cards, change, and gum wrappers.

11 thoughts on “Minimal wallet

  1. I got the Nominal coin wallet 18 months ago, in bright green because 1) I love green, and 2) it was on sale. It's holding up well so far, although I do carry another wallet of the thin long type designed for jacket pockets, for excess credit cards, library cards and the like. The leather may be tanned in Italy but the hides themselves could well come from Morocco (not that it's a bad thing, mind you). There's an iPhone app called CardStar for membership card barcodes (most stores will let you use your phone number in any case). The real solution to the Costanza wallet problem is the man bag, but I believe you are well stocked in that department.
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  2. @Faza Majid: Good point about CardStar (one of the reasons I felt I could shrink my wallet). Things that don’t work on CardStar: my credit cards, my Starbucks card, my BART credit, my MUNI pass, my loyalty cards (Jamba Juice, etc.), my analog map of the SF bus system (it's outdated as of January 2010 though).

    When I purchased mine at the store, they gave me a card with a 15% discount. The leather smell is similar to my Hirano, and when it comes to that, even my LeicaTime case, Italian made in Italy, was probably sewn by some migrant Chinese worker. In any case, I’m sure our purchase of $30 wallets for $80 or so made someone at YouTube happier.

  3. Thanks for the review. I've wanted to buy a new wallet for a while, but not sure if this is the way to go for me. I have some concerns about the wallet you purchased; maybe you can help.

    Do you still have problems of cards accidentally flying out?

    Do you store your cards front-to-front to save space?

    My current setup is a wallet and a separate money clip. The pocket for the cards opens towards the fold so nothing falls out. I haven't seen many wallets designed this way anymore.

    Thanks, again!

    1. @André

      1) No, it is very tight. But leather stretches over time and has give so only time will tell. I will tell you from experience (Tumi FXT) that the cards fly out when you radically change the number of them you put in your wallet. What happens is the leather adapts to a certain amount of give (say 6 plastic cards worth) and when you drop it down to 2, that’s when disaster strikes.

      2) No. Maybe I should do that but it's more important for me to find the right card. Luckily I only have four: drivers license, ATM card, 2 credit cards, and there are four pockets (I don't use one) in my wallet.

      3) There are two pockets in this wallet that open to the fold, one is for a photo ID and the other is really impossible to get to. A nice touch is that there is no plastic window in front of the photo ID (a minus is that the date of birth on the a CA state drivers license is partially covered unless you insert the photo ID upside down). In any case, there are a lot of options out there as Paul has already noted.

  4. I know this is an old post but I’ve only just discovered it myself. I really like this wallet and would like to ask two questions..

    1. What color did you purchase it in? I’ve been on the site and they don’t seem to have it in this color.

    2. How has it held up? Would you recommend purchasing one?

    That’s 3 questions, but your answers will be much appreciated! Thanks

    1. A. It’s a dark brown. I think it was the only color it was available in at the time, but I’m not sure. I’d go to the store if you live in Bay Area. If you don’t I’d call them as they’re boutique and can answer your questions. I’m told by a friend (who manages their stores) that the Nominal Merge is one of their most popular wallets, so my guess is they expanded the color options (it’s made in China, I think so there is a lot of manufacturing flexibility if the quantity is large).

      B. It’s still holding up fine. I have to be careful to keep the same number of cards in each slot that I’ve used. I have one card in one slot and two in the other and when I mix them up, the two-slot card sometimes pops out the single card it has. My trick is to put business cards, receipts, and other temporaries held with the magnetic clasp and be religious about emptying that part as soon as I get home.

      Yes, I’d still recommend one. However be aware that there are many choices out there for great minimal wallets, not just Hlaska. I wanted something to be both modern and classic (leather) so Hlaska fit the bill for me. It might not for you.

  5. Hi,

    I was sad to find the Hlaska store is now closed! I have their “Dragnet” wallet, which I love, but I want a Merge wallet since it is less bulky! If you’re ever thinking of selling yours, or know where I can get one, let me know

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