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A wallet, or billfold, is a small, flat case used to carry personal items such as cash, credit cards and identification documents, such as a driver's license. Wallets are generally made of leather or fabrics, and they are usually pocket-sized and are foldable.
The word "wallet" has been in use since the first century A.D. to refer to a bag or a knapsack for carrying articles. The word may derive from Proto-Germanic. The ancient Greek word kibisis, used to describe the sack carried by the god Hermes and the sack in which the mythical hero Perseus carried the decapitated head of the monster Medusa, has been typically translated as "wallet". Usage of the term "wallet" in its modern meaning of "billfold" in American English dates to 1834.
Billfolds were developed after the introduction of paper currency to the West in the 1600s. (The first paper currency was introduced in the New World by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1690.) Prior to the introduction of paper currency, purses (usually simple drawstring leather pouches) were used for storing coins. Early wallets were made primarily of cow or horse leather and included a small pouch for printed calling cards.
The modern bi-fold wallet with multiple "card slots" became standardized in the early 1950s with the introduction of the first credit cards. Some innovations include the introduction of the velcro-closure wallet in the 1970s.