Want to read in Dutch? Click here.
I recently came across a YouTube video about two men who found denim work trousers from 1870 in a mine. I found the images and the story behind this so interesting that I decided to share it with you today.
Exploring Abandoned Mines
Frank Schlichting and his team from the YouTube channel Exploring Abandoned Mines made the video. As the title says, the gentlemen explore abandoned mines, mostly in the United States.
In their latest video, they headed off to Arizona on invitation from Allen Armstrong. Allen permitted the men to enter the mine, which is about 67 meters deep. And that is quite exciting because no one had set foot inside the mine since the late 1800s.
Denim work pants from 1870 found in a mine
As scary as it is to see how deep underground the men have to go, and how small and dark it is there, it is really interesting. They take two trips into the mine and find, amongst other things, eight pairs of old pants, various socks, and a shoe. All work clothes left behind by the miners in the late 1800s.
They brought the items up for Allen to examine. As the owner of the Castle Dome museum, which displays various items from the mine, he is an expert in this field. In the video, you can see how easily he can determine exactly how old the pants are by the small details. It turns out the pants originate from the period 1870 to 1890. Three from the Levi’s Strauss brand, the rest were Stronghold, Triumph, and Pacifico.
The discovery of these old pants is a milestone, as there are only 5 pairs of work pants that old in the entire world. Worldwide, there are only one hundred pairs of pants from the entire 19th century.
Valuable work pants
It may seem nothing more than a few pairs of worn-out old pants, but nothing could be further from the truth. Schlichting jokes in the video that these are worth more than their weight in gold. In the past, a pair of old jeans sold for 50,000 dollars. And the Levi’s company itself famously once bought back an old pair of pants for $ 35,000.
In the video, Schlichting makes it clear that he is not in it for the big bucks and donates the findings to Allen for his museum. This is also the reason that he visits abandoned mines, namely to put the recovered items on display so that people can learn from them and we do not lose them to history.
How do you recognize old work pants?
Unfortunately, in the video, we do not get a close-up of the pants, and anyway, they are covered in dust. But luckily, there is a video available from The Museum of Modern Art that shows more.
In this video, Levi Strauss & Co. historian, Tracey Panek, introduces some very old jeans. The stories are interesting, and she also explains why the pants looked the way they did. She explains that the pants only had belt loops attached from 1922 onwards. Before that, suspenders were worn.
I find it very fascinating to watch and also recommend that you watch both videos. If you know of any interesting videos about (old) work clothing, please let me know. Perhaps I’ll share them on Prettybusiness World.