Society

124-Year-Old Jeans May Be Worth Tens Of Thousands

| by Michael Doherty

A pair of 124-year-old Levi's jeans that may have belonged to an Arizona man's great-great grandfather could be worth $80,000.

The jeans, discovered by Jock Taylor, appear to be in nearly pristine condition, and may have been sitting inside a chest for decades, the Daily Mail reports. Taylor believes the jeans belonged to his great-great grandfather, Solomon Warner, an 1800s Arizona pioneer.

"He truly was the John Wayne of the 19th century," said auctioneer Daniel Buck Soules, who dated the jeans to 1893.

"He was the first to sell American goods in Tucson," said Arizona historical writer Jim Turner. "The Butterfield Stage came through and whatever you wanted, you had to buy from Solomon Warner."

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Since Warner's death in 1899, his descendants have passed down a wooden chest with his name on it as an heirloom. "When Solomon’s son passed away it went to his only daughter, then everything that she had went to my mother," Taylor said.

Taylor only recently had the idea to find out more about the jeans when an antique roadshow came to his town.

"Vintage denim can be worth thousands of dollars," said vintage jeans dealer Brit Eaton, who says he goes into abandoned mines to search for antique denim. "Finding Levi's pre-1900 is a massive rarity. That's the Holy Grail."

Soules said the pants were in such good condition that he initially didn't realize their age, according to Fox Business.

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"Why is he showing me new jeans?" Soules said that he had thought on first seeing the Levi's.

He soon saw signs the jeans were older than they appeared. The presence of suspender buttons were a telltale sign the jeans were older than 1922, when Levi's began to use belt loops. The pants' single back pocket placed them before 1901, when the company added a second back pocket.

Soules said the last pair of vintage jeans sold from the era went for a hefty price.

"The last pair of blue jeans that sold from the 1880s, it's my understanding, were purchased by Levi’s for six figures," said the auctioneer.

Eaton said the jeans might be too large to sell for over $100,000, saying many vintage denim collectors want to wear the pieces they buy. The jeans have a 44-inch waist and a 36-inch inseam.

"Size really does matter," Eaton said. "If they’re either too little or too big, they just may not be not as valuable."

According to Taylor, Levi's already offered him $50,000 for the jeans, but he said he's waiting for a better offer.

Sources: Daily Mail, Fox Business / Photo credit: Daily Mail

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