Auction of 1880’s jeans

It’s a pair of Levi’s jeans. They were recently sold at an exorbitant price in a New Mexico town. They paid more than $87,000 for them. That’s what the auction of a pair of 1880’s jeans fetched.

They were found in an abandoned mine. They were bought by Kyle Hautner, 23, and Zip Stevenson, a veteran of the vintage jeans market. They paid US$87,400, one of the highest prices ever paid for a pair of jeans.

The auction of a pair of 1880s jeans fetched an extremely high value.
The auction of 1880’s jeans reached a very high value.

Historical rarities

Stevenson has run a denim repair shop in Los Angeles for nearly three decades. He’s never encountered a pair like this before. “They’re extremely rare. Especially in this fantastic used condition and size,” he said. That’s why the auction of 1880s jeans fetched that value.

The find was by Michael Harris. He searched 50 abandoned mines for five years and never found anything so valuable. Two similar pairs exist, but they are kept in museums. And they are too delicate to wear. This pair, on the other hand, could even be worn.

They are considered an icon of the American West. But the jeans also bear witness to a dark episode in the country’s history. An inside pocket is printed with the phrase, “The only kind made by white labor.” The Wall Street Journal quoted a spokesman for Levi’s. He explained that the company used this slogan after the introduction of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. It banned Chinese workers from entering the U.S. In 1890 this practice and the slogan were abandoned. The law was repealed in 1943.

They remain in very good condition.
They are kept in very good condition.

Museums or sale

What does Stevenson plan to do with the jeans now? “We would consider offering them for sale to an extremely interested private buyer.” But he added that the owners would prefer to buy them and display them in a museum “like the Smithsonian or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

For now, they are stored in a safe deposit box near Stevenson’s Denim Doctors store in Los Angeles. And they are available for viewing by appointment.

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