Benjamin Bott – “Double Wren” wallet

Since coming back into the denim & leather hobby in 2016, I discovered that there had been a small explosion in the hand-made leather scene. Whereas in 2000’s, custom leather work in the rugged style were few and far in between, nowadays there are a hundred and one leather workers who are making such wallets, mostly in minimalist forms.

In fact, there are so many card wallets on Instagram, they are pretty much blurring all into one for me at this point. Yet, there was one maker whose wallets consistently stood out among the hundreds – the Wren wallet from Benjamin Bott had caught my eye since I first discovered Ben’s work, and its fine tuning over time had only increased my curiosity.

Truth be told, I usually don’t carry card wallets, and many of the overly simple, and often poorly made, card wallets that you’d see on the Internet have diminished my interest in this category of wallets.

So, how does this custom Double Wren wallet from Ben measure up then?

Can it persuade a bifold-guy to change his ways?

Let’s find out.

 

Design

Ben has been working full time at the Benjamin Bott workshop since 2014, and the Wren is an evolution of his signature designs, a true standard as far as vertical card-holders go.

The original Wren is a two-pocketed set-up, whereas the Double Wren you see here is a cleverly mirrored design.

Through careful cutting and paneling, the Double Wren is made with two pieces of leather and 14 cm of stitching.

The Double Wren has been made to hold up to 8 cards in its central pocket and two quick access slots.

The central pocket is spacious enough to contain notes and receipts too.

 

Leather

Badalassi Carlo tannery’s Pueblo leather feature again!

Pueblo is a top grain leather from the Italian tannery: cut from the shoulder of cattle, being fully vegetable tanned, dyed through and stuffed.

Additionally, I’m told the metal balls are added to the mix to create the sand-paper effect that you see on the Pueblo.

After some wear, the leather very much resembles its Minerva sibling in many ways.

The smell is much more astringent compared to Buttero leather, its closest rival.

The Bone and Olive colours of Pueblo are used on this wallet, at 2 mm (5 oz) thickness.

Bone is the lightest, undyed, and most natural colour of Pueblo.

Olive is a yellow-toned and vivid shade of green.

The Bone variant showcases the extreme reactivity of Pueblo – almost on par with Shonan tannery’s natural saddle leather – which I attribute to its oily nature.

The sand-paper effect of the Pueblo disappeared from the Bone variant in less than a week, but continues to persist on the Olive variant (and other darker colours in my collection.)

 

Construct

The Double Wren is cleverly made, being a mirrored design, constructed from two pieces of leather.

The cutting and paneling of this wallet is extremely precise.

Measured errors are less than 1 mm across the whole wallet.

The wallet is sewn with a stitch density of 7 SPI.

The thread used is salmon coloured Vinymo, a solid-core polyester thread from Japan.

The Vinymo thread has been pulled with perfect tension, and sits very nicely on the Pueblo leather with remarkable regularity.

The Benjamin Bott logo is stamped on one side.

Curves or grooves are cut into all the corners to create a smooth aesthetic.

Ben’s full logo is stamped on the inside.

The edges on the Double Wren are some of the very nicest I’ve seen.

All the edges are burnished with gum so as to be slick to the touch.

Shaving, beveling and clamping have been carried out to ensure clean edges.

The ‘feature edge’ of the Double Wren sits at the bottom, where four layers of leather are stacked.

Here, Ben has taking sanding and burnishing to an extreme.

Ben himself has refer to it as a “candy edge” – the sandwich effect, combined with the absolute sleekness of polish, creates a visual focal point.

The construct, overall, is top tier.

 

Thoughts

There is no doubt that, despite the simplicity of its form factor, the Double Wren is a very well made wallet. Ben’s work on this wallet is much more considered compared to most I’ve come across, regardless of size.

The minimalist look of the Double Wren hides many subtle details which contribute to the creation of Ben’s signature style – Benjamin Bott card wallets are neater, smoother and more sophisticated in construct compared to nearly all other card wallets I’ve seen on the Internet. In fact, over the past couple of years, many makers have styled their card wallets after Ben’s designs, though few hold up to close scrutiny.

Ben’s edge work, especially, consisting of multiple tools and steps, is the nicest I’ve seen on a wallet without edge creasing so far: The stitching is absolutely regular and ruler straight, sitting atop of the leather with almost perfect tension. The beveling, shaving, sanding and burnishing of the edge is true shokunin-level work. The multiple layers of leather clamped down tight so there is no looseness or splitting. The corners and grooves carefully made, unobtrusive yet adding to the overall presentation.

As a full time leather craftsman, Ben’s decision to choose quality over quantity is admirable. Too often, there is a deterioration of wallet construct as a maker transitions into full time work, not to mention increasing shortcuts being taken and a predominance of machine-stitched work. In his fifth year of professional leather work, I’m surprised that Ben’s wallets have not only continued to be fully hand made, but the details & designs have continued to evolve.

The Double Wren itself is not just a clever and practical design, it works well in showcasing leathers and threads too. There are so many potential themes possible with the Double Wren, Ben’s recent selvedge denim theme being just one possibility.

The Double Wren is very photogenic when featuring Pueblo leathers, an upgrade of sorts compared with the usual American veg tan leathers which Ben had tended to utilize in the past. Pueblo is a fairly interesting leather, a mildly distressed form of Badalassi Carlo’s Minerva leather, being at the top end of Italian leathers. In terms of temper and grain characteristics, I must say it is a great choice for card wallets when thicker pieces are used. Though, the grain growth is not quite enthusiast level on this leather.

Ben’s use of 5 oz leather, slightly thicker than most wallets, makes this Double Wren more rugged than other card wallets, and increases this wallet’s compatibility with denim and work wear. The curves corners here also add to the retro vibes, and improves the synergy of the Double Wren with heritage style clothing.

As you might know, my preference in terms of wallet form factors are bifolds and mid-wallets. Yet, I must say, I found the Double Wren a pleasure to use, being able to carry all the cards I need – albeit a bit more fiddly compared with a full sized wallet – whilst maintaining a very small footprint. The Double Wren will fit into almost any pocket as far as menswear is concerned, even in shirt pockets. It will easily slot into jeans pockets, however you like.

It is small, but also interesting – a perfect fidgeting device for my long meetings at work – I especially like to touch the candy edge.

I would consider the Double Wren to be, potentially, a statement piece, depending on how it is spec’d. Whilst visually not as impactful as a statement bifold or decked out mid-wallet, the Double Wren is rather sophisticated and versatile, and no less an enthusiast wallet.

All in all, the Double Wren from Benjamin Bott is one of the nicest wallets I’ve ever handled, regardless of size. It is an easy recommendation for fans of minimalist wallets, of course, but Ben’s styling and construct very much slots the Double Wren into the denim & work wear realms too.

Further, if you are someone who likes to collect leathers, the Double Wren is a perfect vehicle to facilitate your neurosis.

At $75 USD for the Pueblo Double Wren, or $65 USD for a basic Double Wren, Ben’s wallets are an easy purchase, and should last you through multiple pairs of raw denim. You will likely find that Ben’s work is one of the nicest you’ve handled in the rugged styles.

Have a look at the Benjamin Bott website to see the currently available wallets, or contact Ben through the website to get your own customised Double Wren.

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