Levi pays big green for vintage blue jeans

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — One of the world’s oldest pairs of Levi’s jeans — made in the 1880s and sold for around a dollar — was reacquired by Levi Strauss &amp Co. for $46,532.

In what is believed to be the highest price ever paid for denim, Levi’s bought the jeans during an online eBay auction. Levi’s historian Lynn Downey said the company will use the jeans as a template for part of a vintage collection.

The jeans were found in the mud of a one-time Nevada mining town. The owner, who has remained anonymous, brought the jeans to an appraiser for eBay, which promoted the auction with The History Channel.

The jeans are in "fair to good" condition, said eBay spokeswoman Jennifer Chu — faded, ripped in the inseam, but still intact and even wearable.

Historians for Levi Strauss examined the fabric and patented copper rivets and concluded the jeans — technically, denim waist coveralls — were produced between 1880 and 1885.

The company, founded in 1873, has several pairs of jeans in its own museum collection that date to around 1890, but was not aware of any older pairs. Levi’s bought an 1890 pair from a New York City dealer for $25,000 three years ago.

Until Thursday, no one had bid during the weeklong period the jeans were offered online. Then, in the two minutes before the auction closed Thursday night, a tussle of five bids saw the price shoot up from an initial $25,000 asking price.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Business

Gillian Montgomery weighs a bag of bird seed at Wild Birds Unlimited on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Bird and cat lovers flock to this Everett bird supply store

Bring on the birds! Locally owned Wild Birds Unlimited store can help turn your backyard into a “seedy” restaurant.

Brielle Holmes, 3, points to a stuffed animal that she likes at Wishes toy store on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023 in Alderwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Local toy store chain got its start as kiosk at Everett Mall

Wishes now operates eight stores, including three in Snohomish County. Its Alderwood mall store is a roomy 7,000 square feet.

Manager Rika Rafael, left, visual merchandiser April Votolato, center, and assistant manager and events coordinator Jaidhara Sleighter stand at the entrance of East West Books & Gifts’ new location Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, in downtown Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘We were meant to be here’: East West Books Gifts reopens in Edmonds

Located in Seattle before the pandemic, the new store offers books and other resources on meditation, spirituality and yoga.

Members and supporters of the Snohomish and Island County Labor Council gather on Oct. 10 at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center in Everett. The the Affiliate Labor Champion Award was given to the International Association of Machinists 751. Wes Heard, center, accepted the award on behalf of IAM 751. Photo credit: Snohomish and Island County Labor Council.
Snohomish & Island County Labor Council honors labor leaders

The labor council’s annual Champions Dinner recognized two local labor leaders and a machinists union last month.

Two students walk along a path through campus Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. The college’s youth-reengagement program has lost its funding, and around 150 students are now without the money they need to attend classes. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Fewer students enroll at state’s public colleges, study says

Enrollment has picked up since the pandemic, but the lag threatens the state’s quest for education equity.

Michelle Roth is a registered nurse in the Providence Emergency Department on Sunday, January 23, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Health career job fair to be held Thursday in Everett

More than 14 health care related employers will attend the Snohomish County/Workforce Snohomish event.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
State gets $1 million grant to boost small-business exports

Washington’s Department of Commerce will use the federal grant to help small companies increase their export business.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Grant to help fund health care program at Edmonds College

  1. The $220,000 grant from Career Connect Washington aims to improve the college’s patient care technician program.

Trader Joe’s customers walk in and out of the store on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Trader Joe’s to move store to Everett Mall, application says

Trader Joe’s could move from its current address — with a tight squeeze of a parking lot — to the former Sears location at Everett Mall.

Starbucks workers and allies participate in a strike and picket organized by Starbucks Workers United during the company's Red Cup Day Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, at a location near Pike Place Market in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Starbucks workers in Everett, Marysville join national strike

Hundreds of Starbucks union workers at 15 locations across Washington joined the one-day strike.

Summit Everett, a rock climbing gym, in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023. Summit will move into the former Grand Avenue Marketplace space, a retail location that has been vacant for five years. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett climbing gym to close, move to new downtown site

Summit Everett, a Rucker Avenue anchor, will open a new facility next year one block west on Grand Avenue.

A whiteboard inside Richie del Puerto's auto tech classroom at Sno-Isle Technical Skills Center on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Explore apprenticeship programs at free Everett job fair Nov. 16

The Sno-Tech Skills Center job fair features 30 apprenticeship programs from construction to health care.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.