Are These 165-Year-Old Shipwrecked Jeans the Ultimate Selvedge Grail?

Denim fanatics will do all types of issues to get their arms on some high-quality blues. Keep in mind when Carmy traded a circa-1955 Levi’s jacket for a lunch shift’s price of beef on The Bear? He simply received one-upped by one pants-minded purchaser, who bought a pair of five-button work pants, salvaged from a trunk discovered on the 1857 S.S. Central America after spending greater than a century on the seafloor, for $114,000 on the Holabird Western Americana Collections public sale this month. 

The steamship was headed from Panama to New York in September 1857 when it sank in a hurricane close to South Carolina, with 425 folks—and 30,000 kilos of California Gold Rush precious-metal loot—aboard. (The ruins had been found in 1988 by the treasure hunter Thomas G. Thompson, whose complete deal appears about as sophisticated as you’d think about a real-life treasure hunter’s can be.)

Among the many wreck’s 153 survivors was the pants’ proprietor: a Mexican-American Struggle veteran named John Dement, whose tanned-leather baggage was filled with menswear treasures. Their lengthy soak within the sea lent them some trippy black, grey, and rust-brown staining. Elsewhere within the so-called “Dement trunk” was a cotton twill vest, a pair wool work shirts, and a few silk scarves, all of which appear like they may have been designed by Sterling Ruby after which worn on a crimson carpet by Timothée Chalamet. 

Dement was additionally a purchaser for his household’s mercantile store, and had probably crossed paths with would-be gold prospectors throughout his enterprise journeys to purchase items. (Our man was a purchaser! No marvel he had so many grails.) 

Holabird public sale officers imagine that the pants, because of their button measurement and fly detailing, may even be a really early prototype of Levi Strauss denims—although Strauss (a fellow dry-goods wholesaler) and his affiliate, Jacob Davis, wouldn’t patent their trendy bluejeans till 1873, some 16 years after the shipwreck. Levi’s officers name the declare hypothesis, although it’s probably the assertion helped enhance their worth at public sale. 

“The pants should not Levi’s nor do I imagine they’re miner’s work pants,” Tracey Panek, a historian and director of the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, wrote in an e mail to the Related Press. Both method, we’d wager Carmy may commerce these watery trousers in for an entire yr’s price of Italian beef sandwiches.

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