this thing's incredible

Keith McNally on the $15 Wallet That Looks Like an Airmail Envelope

The author’s Mighty Wallet looks like an airmail envelope stuffed with his cash and plastic. Photo: Keith McNally

I have always had a fear of wallets. Like leather jackets, they just didn’t suit me, and I felt sure the world knew this. Wallets were too corporate and orderly and clashed with my natural bent toward chaos. In my more successful days, when cash was king, my aversion to wallets forced me to stuff bundles of crushed dollar bills into tight-fitting jeans’ pockets. This put a perceptible bulge in my Levis, which I wasn’t wholly displeased with. But the payback came when I had to unloosen the cash: in furiously digging out a single bill from the compressed ball in my pocket, the whole discolored mass would spill out. Enough of these embarrassing episodes eventually prompted me to search for a wallet that would keep my credit cards and cash in order, but that didn’t make me look like a banker. Or worse: someone trying not to look a banker.

Ten years ago, as I was dropping my son off at school, I bumped into the publisher of a glossy art magazine, who asked me for a reservation at Balthazar. Reaching for his card, he unleashed this sensational Airmail wallet full of one-hundred-dollar bills. The wallet was so original and beautiful, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Thinking I was staring at his impressive wad of cash, he flashed me a dirty look and abruptly put the wallet away. A week later, a small gift arrived for me at my office. It was the Mighty Wallet Airmail Wallet from the publisher. Alas, without his wad of hundred-dollar bills.

I’ve never left home without the wallet since, and once I began using it, an odd thing happened: the filthy condition of my cash improved. No longer did the bills appear to have come from some grungy all-night bar, but rather from some spanking-new Equinox. This sparked an obsession with the immaculateness of my cash, which infuriated many a cab driver and shopkeeper when I asked for cleaner bills as they gave me change. It was as if I went from sleeping with anyone to sleeping exclusively with royalty.

People are generally so impressed when I reveal my Mighty Wallet that I’ve become cagey about who actually sees it. I tend to expose it only to those I’m anxious to impress — which means everybody. At the height of my wallet snobbishness, I came across an extraordinarily attractive shop assistant I was dying to impress. When the time came to pay, I discreetly unveiled my Mighty Wallet. But the shop girl, totally unmoved, simply said: “That’s the third one of those I’ve seen today.”

More non-wallet-looking Mighty Wallets

This one looks like a regular Tyvek envelope, for those seeking something even more discreet.

Here’s one that looks like a map of the California coastline and Pacific Ocean.

And this one’s exterior looks just like those clean bills you’ll be pulling from inside.

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Keith McNally on His $15 Mighty Wallet