Old Pairs of Jeans

You probably have a few old pairs of jeans in your closet. But probably not 125 years old (and if they are, they are worth a lot of money). Eight pairs of jeans were found earlier this year down in a mine in Arizona — three pairs of Levis and the rest a rival brand called Stronghold.

Why were they left at the bottom of a mine? It’s a mystery.

To read about this find and see more pictures, go to this article at RV Lifestyle.

These may not be the oldest Levis ever found. The Levi Strauss company first began making workman’s trousers in 1873. The Levi Strauss archive has a pair from the 1880s. But jeans from the 1890s are rare enough to make them collectable and museum-worthy and worth a nice bit of moolah.

How can you tell that the jeans are an early pair? There are a few identifying features:

–Donut buttons on the fly. Zippers weren’t in use yet. Donut buttons have a depression like a donut hole in the middle.

–Only one back pocket.

–No belt loops. The pants were held up by suspenders, which attached to buttons on the waistband.

–A cinching strap on the back, like you sometimes find on vests.

–The leather brand patch located in the middle of the back.

–A strengthening rivet at the crotch. This was later removed from the design when cowboys complained about the rivets getting too hot when they crouched around a campfire. (Ouch!)

These early jeans would have been dyed with plant-based, not artificial indigo. That makes them more likely to fade over time, but down in the mine they were well preserved.

If you are intrigued by old jeans, you can read more about the history of Levis at the Levi Strauss & Co. Heritage blog.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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