A cousin who was netsurfing referred me to this item that was up for bid in ebay and just got sold recently. Here’s how the seller described it:
This old pair of LEVI’S were found in a mine in the Rand Mining District, on the Mojave Desert,. California. They were found with and old paper bag with the name of a mercantile store which operated between 1895 and 1898 in the town or Randsburg. Their was also a gunny sack with the initials A.P.K. and Randsburg marked on it. A.P.K. is through to be Adam P. Kuffel who was a partner in the mercantile store.
These pants have the cloth label vice the leather label. The label (pictured) indicates that they are size W34 x L33, They are copper riveted with the rivets marked L.S. & Co. S.F. They are buckle back (pictured) with suspender buttons. Buttons are silver in color and are all marked LEVI STRAUSS & CO. S.F.CAL.
They are covered in candlewax [I think he was referring to the white spots—SL] from the candle’s the miner was using to light the tunnel he was working in.
The pants were made with just one back pocket on the right hand side…The pants are in excellent condition with two small flaws. One hole just above where the left hand back pocket would be, which can be covered by a Quarter and one missing piece of cloth measuring approximatley 1/2 “by !/2” on the band just to the right hand side of the fly.
Just yesterday, this pair of denim over-alls (the modern jeans came about in the 1920’s) was sold for $36,099. According to ebay, vintage 1890s Levi’s do fetch from $20,000 to $35,000. The seller was some guy with the username of ‘burgman.’ He said the jeans were found by his neighbor who had been exploring the Nevada California mines for stuff like these. Apparently, Nevada miners of long ago tend to leave their things (including their pants) behind for some reason.
People asked burgman questions like which detergent to use to remove the wax ( “I have no idea…”) and if he is willing to sell the dirt found in the pockets ( “Sorry, but as I turned the pockets inside out…the dirt spilled out”). Apparently what I learned was there are some collectors of antique mining clothes and equipment willing to buy such items, and that they preferred articles of clothing to be unwashed or left alone as it is. Someone even questioned the way the candle dripped: “Would [it] have been long in shape…unlike the round drops pictured that would indicate that the jeans were laid down flat and the the candle dripped from over the top?”
But let’s assume that this item is authentic (which it probably is). I can just imagine this miner dude as a short guy (basing it from the length of the pants) who has no patience doing his laundry, and so had to change quickly (probably had a date or something) and rushed off, leaving his pants behind in the mine. I’m thinking he probably bought a new pair which came in with the paper bag, put them on, placed his old pants in the bag, and threw it nonchalantly aside (wait…are we really sure he’s not from around this era?)…And so, with that simple act of discarding yucky soiled trousers (I dare you to zoom in on the middle front part of the pants…eew! XP), someone from the past made this ‘burgman’ (and his neighbor friend) richer by 36 grand a hundred years later.
Well, some guys have all the luck…by finding some other guy’s ‘yuck.’ I surmised that a century ago, Levi’s (although made of long-lasting durable material) were sold cheaply that miners can afford to easily discard their pants and just buy new ones. And I thought that people of this generation (in this fast-food, fast-age of disposable everything) seemed to be the masters of that habit…well, I guess, some things DO ‘never go out of style.’