For the second time this year, a really old pair of pants sold at auction for a lot of money. Back in October, a pair of Levi’s from the 1880s went for $87,400 at an auction in New Mexico. The jeans were found in an abandoned mine shaft and were in remarkably good condition. They could probably still be worn. Well, it has happened again and, apparently, the price of pants has gone up.
AP News reports that a pair of work pants pulled from an 1857 shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina have been described as “the oldest known pair of jeans in the world.” The white button-fly pants sold for an astounding $114,000 as part of an auction held by Holabird Western American Collections. In all, 270 Gold Rush-era items sold for close to $1 million in Reno, Nevada last week.
The jeans were found in a trunk that had been aboard the S.S. Central America, which sank in a hurricane on September 12, 1857. The ship was carrying passengers traveling from San Francisco to New York via Panama. We know that of the 578 people on board, 153 survived. However, questions remain concerning the pants.
San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing jeans in 1873, sixteen years after the North Carolina shipwreck. Some speculate that it’s possible the pants could be a very early version of what would become Levi’s. The clothing company’s historian and archive director, Tracey Panek, says that’s unlikely. But, Levi’s or not, there’s no indication that any older Gold Rush-era work pants exist.
Pulled from a sunken trunk at an 1857 shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina, work pants that auction officials describe as the oldest known pair of jeans in the world have sold for $114,000. https://t.co/rk18335Q1j— The Associated Press (@AP) December 9, 2022