Denim has been a major staple in modern American clothing, and about 96 percent of U.S. consumers own a pair of jeans, according to Statistic Brain. So it might not be entirely shocking to find out that what could be one of the oldest pairs of unworn jeans in the world would fetch a hefty price.
One particular pair of Levi’s denim jeans that date back to 1893 could be the oldest unworn denim pants, Fox Business reported.
The ‘extra-vintage’ pair of pants belong to Jock Taylor, a man who said his great-great-grandfather Solomon Warner might have owned the jeans. Taylor found the denim garment in a family truck. The pants showed their signs of age from the rivets and suspender buttons. Denim did not receive belt loops until after the 1920s and the rivets on the jeans remained uncovered (Rivets were later covered with denim by the major jeans manufacturer in 1937).
Solomon Warner went west in 1830s. A tall man—6’6”—from upstate New York, he traveled to California to find gold, before settling in Tucson and setting up a business selling goods to people passing through on the Butterfield stage coach. When he died in 1899, he left behind a wooden trunk full of possessions that became family treasures, including a Bible, a saddle blanket, and a pair of old jeans
Since the discovery, Levi’s has apparently offered Taylor a large sum for the jeans —$50,000. Taylor hopes they’ll offer a better price.
“Vintage denim can be worth thousands of dollars,” a vintage jeans dealer Brit Eaton told the publication. “Finding Levi’s pre-1900 is a massive rarity. That’s the Holy Grail.”
Levi’s can be credited with producing the first pair of jeans. Levi Strauss came to the U.S. in 1853 during the Gold Rush years. The Bavarian immigrant settled in San Francisco where he opened a dry goods store. A tailor named Jacob Davis partnered with Strauss in 1872 to produce and patent a pair of original working pants, riveted for endurance. The pants would be made from “brown cotton duck and true blue denim.” Thus, denim was born.
Since his death in 1899, his descendants have passed on a wooden chest. An ‘heirloom’ that bears his name. Jock didn’t think to check who the jeans belonged to until quite recently when an antiques roadshow came into town. The auctioneer found several marks that would indicate the jeans were much older than they appeared.Unlike modern Levi’s, the jeans in those days had only a single back pocket. There were no belt loops; folks back then used suspenders. The denim was produced at a mill in New Hampshire, and the jeans were produced by Levi’s in San Francisco. The rivets were exposed, meaning they were older than 1937 – and suspender buttons showed that the pair were older than 1922. Finally, a single back pocket indicated that the jeans were older than 1901. Auctioneer Daniel Buck Soules dated them to 1893.
He believes that private buyers might be willing to buy a substantial amount for the jeans or even Levi Strauss & Co. could buy back the old jeans at a vastly higher price.
‘The last pair of blue jeans that sold from the 1880s, it’s my understanding, were purchased by Levi’s for six figures,’ says Soules to Fox Business.
A pair of 501 jeans manufactured in the 1880s sold for $60,000 to a Japanese collector in 2005, Soules said, and another pair, from 1888, sold last year for six figures.
These current jeans are like new and could possibly be the oldest unworn pair of Levi’s in existence.