In my quest to find a great minimalist leather wallet, I was given the opportunity to review a Benjamin Bott Design wallet called the Chickadee English Tan ultra minimalist leather wallet. When it arrived, it was love at first sight.
The wallet arrived in a drawstring bag to protect it from scratches during shipping. There was no other fancy packaging involved – all of the time, energy, and money goes into the product itself.
Design and Quality
Description: The Chickadee English Tan wallet is a 100% handmade (hand cut leather, hand sewn, etc.) item made in the USA in Gloucester, Massachusetts by Benjamin Bott Design Leather Goods. Benjamin Bott Cunningham is the proprietor and has been working full-time for the past four years making leather wallets, phone cases, and key fobs.
The Leather: One of the first things I noticed about the Chickadee wallet was the quality of the leather, its suppleness, and its beautiful color. The Chickadee wallet is made out of full grain English tan Dublin Horween leather (4.5 oz or 1.8 mm). The Horween Leather Company, a tannery located in Chicago, IL established in 1905, is well known for producing some of the finest leathers in the world. Dublin is a waxed version of the Horween Essex tanned leather. Horween describes the Essex tanned leather as a rich full grain top quality cowhide that is tanned with “the same liquor we use to tan shell cordovan [horsehide].” Even though this is a vegetable tanned leather, it is not as stiff because of Horween’s tanning process. The leather holds its shape, yet is soft and flexible enough to give a little to accommodate the cards you insert into the wallet.
The Design and Workmanship: The design and cut are clean, unpretentious, precise and gorgeous. The wallet is made up of two rectangular pieces of leather (one long piece, one short): the long rectangular piece is folded in half with the second piece inserted in between to create the two available wallet pockets.
The wallet was then hand stitched together with a short stitch length using 0.035” thick waxed polyester Olive Green thread along the right-hand side of the wallet (a saddle stitch). The stitching is very tight and really well done. The above photos show the saddle stitch from the front of the wallet (left photo), then from the back (right photo).
Along the lower edge of the wallet, a cross-stitch was used. The wallet comes in different thread colors: Turquoise, Royal Blue, Scarlet Red, Purple, Lark (looks like ivory), Seal (looks like black), Olive Green, Emerald Green, and Old Brown.
The burnished edges are beautifully polished and so even with each other that you cannot tell that there are three edges sewn together just by touching the edge. Wow.
I spoke to Mr. Cunningham about how he was able to obtain such a nice finish on the edges of the leather. To obtain the smooth polished appearance as shown in the photo above, he started with 100 grit sandpaper and worked his way down to 1000 grit sandpaper and finally treated it with saddle soap and water. The wallet is an amazing piece of craftsmanship – you can tell that a lot of time was invested in this beautiful leather product.
The Chickadee English tan wallet has two pockets. There are no additional materials used to line either of the pockets. The interior of the back pocket is raw leather. The back pocket also has a stamp with the Benjamin Bott Designs logo inside – the words “Benjamin Bott” are printed at the top, then below that is an image of a cow with “made in the USA” stamped underneath.
One of the sides of the interior of the front pocket is made of smooth finished leather while the other side is raw leather.
Size: The Chickadee wallet measures 9.5 cm L x ~6.7 cm W (3.75″ L x 2.75″ W) When the wallet is empty, it is approximately 0.25″ or a little over 0.5 cm thick. The wallet is made from 4.5 oz. leather which is about 1.8 mm thick. Mr. Cunningham informed me that if it were made with thinner leather, over time the leather would break down from use thus limiting the length of time that you would be able to use such a wallet.
Comparing the Chickadee English tan wallet to my Garzini wallet shows you the difference in size. The Chickadee is definitely more minimalistic. You can also see the differences in the thickness of the types of thread used and the leather quality. The Horween Dublin leather really catches your eye thus making the Chickadee wallet stand out.
The wallet is indeed a very nice size and fits comfortably in my hand.
The wallet is capable of holding 3-4 cards and some cash according to the Benjamin Bott Design website. As you can see, it is indeed capable of carrying four plastic cards in the front pocket and four paper cards and two five dollar bills in the back pocket.
When full, the wallet is about 5/8″ or a little over 2 cm thick. If you carry less than this, it will obviously be thinner.
I have been using this wallet for almost two weeks now, and have only grown more impressed with it over time. My only concern was that the exposed cross-stitched thread along the bottom of the wallet might wear out over time, but Mr. Cunningham is confident in the stitching quality and has thus offered a lifetime warranty to cover the stitching (and the wallet as a whole) should it become an issue.
The Benjamin Bott Design Chickadee English Tan ultra minimalist leather wallet is by far the best made, highest quality, and in my opinion, most attractive minimalist leather wallet that I have reviewed to date. It is made using world renowned Horween leather (Dublin English tan) and thick waxed polyester thread. It is extremely well made and I expect that it will last a lifetime (the stitching and the wallet have a lifetime warranty). It is $60 but well worth the price. It holds my basic needs (4 plastic cards, 4 paper cards, and a couple of dollar bills) and I absolutely love it. I will be using it every day – perhaps on some days, just to gaze at its beauty.
Source: The sample used in this review was provided by Benjamin Bott Design Leather Goods. Please visit his website for more information or to purchase one.