I tend to be a bit of a sucker for anything that blends leather and stationary goods together. Ok, just leather goods in general, but adding pens or paper to the mix is always a plus.
Recently I was contacted by a company that I hadn't heard of before, Banknote NYC, about reviewing one of their leather products that is a combination wallet, small notebook, and tiny pocket pen. I agreed and special thanks to Banknote NYC for sending it my way for review.
For some background, Banknote NYC is comprised of a couple of guys, Chris and Bjorn, who like simple design and enjoy working with small shops and craftspeople to make their store's wares. Their leather goods are produced by a gentleman named John who lives in Queens, NY and their pocket small notebooks are handmade by a woman named Gina in West Caldwell, NJ.
The first thing you notice about the wallet is how slim it is. Designed as a front pocket carry wallet, it definitely does the job.
The leather used is amazingly soft and is a beautiful color. They sent me the Banknote wallet in the burgundy color (a limited run) and is a rich reddish brown. The seams are sewn via machine, but seem to be done with care and attention to detail. Not quite the same as a 100% hand-stitched good, but many shops choose this route so it isn't an out of the ordinary thing.
Does hand stitching provide a bit of an "artisan" and more precise effect to the pieces? I would definitely say so, but machine stitched leathers are still beautiful, functional, and can often be bought at a lower price due to the reduced labor cost. It just depends on your preference and what you're looking for.
It is a thinner leather than I am generally used to from other leather makers (I think thicker leather is kind of a style choice at the moment which I do enjoy), but this helps in keeping the wallet as thin as possible without losing the function of a few pockets and slots.
The wallet has two main pocket sections, one on the inside cover (sort of a one and a half pocket) and one on the back, both of which can hold cards easily. Technically, there could be considered a third pocket behind the back cover of the notebook.
The small pocket notebooks (they are pretty tiny, about the size of a business card) are pretty cool. Being a handmade item definitely adds some charm. Now, this notebook was designed to be highly portable and small, so don't expect to be writing short stories or diary entries. My thoughts are around some simple functionality for jotting a quick note, phone number, or a little shopping list.
Banknote NYC sells their own proprietary refills of notebooks and the unique size would make it a bit difficult to fit others. I could see some really small Rhodia pads or even the tiniest of Moleskines fitting, but what fun is that when you can fill it with handmade books?
Also included with the Banknote wallet is a really, really tiny click pen. I'm talking really tiny. To go along with the slim profile, they totally fit, but personally I will probably not be using mine. It feels kind of like writing with a matchstick...
The price point on the Banknote wallets range from from $45-60 depending on the choice of leather. Personally I feel that this price range is extremely reasonable considering they are handmade goods. As mentioned before, stepping up to a fully hand-stitched wallet is going to a bit more pricey (likely double or more), but I feel the price is about right for these. If you are looking for a thicker leather wallet, these are a bit more flexible and thin and may not be the right fit.
Thanks again to Banknote NYC for sending me the wallet to check out! Feel free to check out their site and other wares if you're interested. For those interested, the guys also created a promo code "ClickyPost" for readers to use for 10% off anything in the shop.