$46,000 Blue Jeans
May 20, 1873: Blue Jeans Patented
On this day in 1873, Levi Strauss and a Reno, Nevada tailor, Jacob Davis, are given a patent to create pants reinforced with metal rivets. This marks the birth of the world’s most famous garment: blue jeans.
Strauss (left) moved from NY to San Francisco in 1853 to seek fame and fortune. It was the heady days of the Gold Rush. Strauss created a successful dry goods business in San Francisco becoming a well-known business man as well as supporting the Jewish community there.
A tailor from Reno, Jacob Davis (right) contacted him with an idea to make pants stronger using rivets at the stress points of the jeans. Davis didn’t have the $68.00 to apply for a patent so Levi enthusiastically agreed to apply for both of them. On this day in 1873 a patent was granted to both men… and the rest is history.
Strauss brought Davis to San Francisco to oversee the manufacturing of the “waist overalls” as they were called back then. The 501 brand jean, also known as the XX, was a best seller and of course continues to this day.
Oldest known pair of Levi’s sold for a record $46,532.00 on eBay, in May of 2001. They were bought by Levi Strauss & Co. and will be preserved in their archives, next to the $25,000 pair they previously bought.
Denim is a sturdy cotton twill textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This twill weaving produces the familiar diagonal ribbing of the denim that distinguishes it from cotton duck.
The word “denim” comes from the name of a fabric that was first made in the city of Nîmes, France, by the André family. It was originally called serge de Nîmes but the name was soon shortened to “denim.”