Pulled from a trunk sunk in an 1857 shipwreck off the North Carolina coast, work pants that auction officials say are the oldest known pair of jeans in the world have sold for $114,000.
The heavy-duty white miner’s pants were among 270 Gold Rush-era memorabilia in Reno last weekend, according to the antique store, Holabird Western Americana Collections.
There is disagreement as to whether these expensive pants have any relation to Levi Strauss, the father of today’s jeans, as they were made in 1873 by Levi Strauss & Company, based in San Francisco, 16 years before the first pair was officially produced. Some say that historical evidence suggests a connection with Strauss, a wealthy consumer goods wholesaler at the time, and that the pants may have been a very early version of the ultimately iconic denim pant.
But historian and director of the company’s archives, Tracy Panek, says any claims about its origins are “speculation.”
In an email to The Associated Press, he wrote, “The pants are not Levi’s and I do not believe they are Miner’s work pants.”
Regardless of their origin, it is undeniable that the pants were made before the SS Central America sank in a storm on September 12, 1857, filled with passengers that began their voyage in San Francisco and headed for New York via Panama. Departed. There is also no indication that the old work pants from the Gold Rush era exist.
“The miners’ jeans are like the first flag on the moon, a landmark moment in history,” said Dwight Manley, managing partner of California Gold Marketing Group.
Other auctioned items that had been buried in the wreckage of the ship for more than a century, 7,200 feet (2,195 m) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, included the keys that would allow the buyer to enter the treasure room. Had to do, where tons of gold rush coins and appraiser’s bullion. They sold for $103,200.
Millions of dollars’ worth of gold have been sold since being recovered from the 1988 shipwreck, but last Saturday marked the first time the items were put up for auction. Another auction is scheduled for February.
“Never has there been the magnitude of these recovered artifacts, which represent a time capsule of everyday life during the gold rush,” said Fred Holabird, president of the auction company.
The cover of a Wells Fargo & Company stock chest, believed to be the oldest of its kind, sold for $99,600. An 1849 Colt pocket pistol sold for $30,000. A $20 gold coin minted in San Francisco in 1856 cost $43,200.