ShareThis Page
Fashion

Vintage denim: 125-year-old Levis sell for nearly $100K

| Saturday, May 26, 2018, 10:04 a.m.
This undated photo provided by Daniel Buck Auctions, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, shows a portion of a pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co., denim blue jeans that sold for nearly $100,000 in May 2018 to a buyer in Asia. The jeans were purchased in 1893 by a store keeper in the Arizona Territory and were in pristine condition because they were worn only a few times. (Daniel Buck Soules/Daniel Buck Auctions via AP)
This undated photo provided by Daniel Buck Auctions, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, shows a portion of a pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co., denim blue jeans that sold for nearly $100,000 in May 2018 to a buyer in Asia. The jeans were purchased in 1893 by a store keeper in the Arizona Territory and were in pristine condition because they were worn only a few times. (Daniel Buck Soules/Daniel Buck Auctions via AP)
This undated photo provided by Daniel Buck Auctions, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, shows a detail of a pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co., denim blue jeans that sold for nearly $100,000 in May to a buyer in Asia. The jeans were purchased in 1893 by a store keeper in the Arizona Territory and were in pristine condition because they were worn only a few times. (Daniel Buck Soules/Daniel Buck Auctions via AP)
This undated photo provided by Daniel Buck Auctions, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, shows a detail of a pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co., denim blue jeans that sold for nearly $100,000 in May to a buyer in Asia. The jeans were purchased in 1893 by a store keeper in the Arizona Territory and were in pristine condition because they were worn only a few times. (Daniel Buck Soules/Daniel Buck Auctions via AP)
This undated photo provided by Daniel Buck Auctions, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, shows a pocket inside a pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co., denim blue jeans that sold for nearly $100,000 in May 2018 to a buyer in Asia. The jeans were purchased in 1893 by a store keeper in the Arizona Territory and were in pristine condition because they were worn only a few times. (Daniel Buck Soules/Daniel Buck Auctions via AP)
This undated photo provided by Daniel Buck Auctions, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, shows a pocket inside a pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co., denim blue jeans that sold for nearly $100,000 in May 2018 to a buyer in Asia. The jeans were purchased in 1893 by a store keeper in the Arizona Territory and were in pristine condition because they were worn only a few times. (Daniel Buck Soules/Daniel Buck Auctions via AP)
This undated photo provided by Daniel Buck Auctions, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, shows a label on a pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co., denim blue jeans that sold for nearly $100,000 in May 2018 to a buyer in Asia. The jeans were purchased in 1893 by a store keeper in the Arizona Territory and were in pristine condition because they were worn only a few times. (Daniel Buck Soules/Daniel Buck Auctions via AP)
This undated photo provided by Daniel Buck Auctions, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, shows a label on a pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co., denim blue jeans that sold for nearly $100,000 in May 2018 to a buyer in Asia. The jeans were purchased in 1893 by a store keeper in the Arizona Territory and were in pristine condition because they were worn only a few times. (Daniel Buck Soules/Daniel Buck Auctions via AP)

PORTLAND, Maine — A buyer with a penchant for vintage denim has plunked down nearly $100,000 for a pair of truly vintage jeans that come from the American Old West.

The 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co. blue jeans, which failed to sell at auction in 2016, now have a new owner somewhere in Southeast Asia.

“It's somebody who loves old Levis,” said Daniel Buck Soules from Daniel Buck Auctions, who worked for 11 years on public television's “Antiques Roadshow.”

The price puts it near record territory for old Levis. But the private sale agreement prevents Soules from disclosing the exact price or the buyer's location, he said. The buyer sent a representative to Maine to inspect the jeans before buying them on May 15, he said.

There's no mystery behind the jeans.

They were purchased in 1893 by Solomon Warner, a storekeeper in the Arizona Territory. Warner was a colorful character who established one of the first stores selling American dry goods in Tucson and survived being shot by Apache Indians in 1870.

The denim was produced at a mill in New Hampshire, and the jeans were manufactured by Levi's in San Francisco. Unlike modern Levis, the jeans in those days had only a single back pocket. There were no belt loops because men used suspenders back then.

The denim befits a larger-than-life character. The cotton jeans, with button fly, had a size 44 waist and 36-inch inseam, suggesting Warner was not a small man.

They'd been stored for decades in a trunk and were in pristine condition because Warner wore them only a few times before falling ill, Soules said.

Soules put the jeans up for auction in 2016, but a computer glitch botched the online bidding. Then the owner decided to go the private-sale route, he said.

There's a market for rare jeans.

A pair of 501 jeans manufactured in the 1880s sold for $60,000 to a Japanese collector, Soules said, and another pair, from 1888, sold for six figures.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me