Are These the Oldest Jeans In the World?

Pulled from a sunken trunk of an 1857 shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina, work pants that auction officials describe as the oldest known pair of jeans in the world have sold for $114,000. The white, heavy-duty miner’s pants with a 5-button fly were among 270 Gold Rush-era artifacts that sold for a total of nearly $1 million in Reno last weekend. There’s disagreement about whether the pricey pants have any ties to Levi Strauss, the father of modern-day blue jeans, as they predate by 16 years the first pair officially manufactured by his San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. in 1873. Regardless of their origin, there’s no denying the pants were made before the S.S. Central America sank in a hurricane on Sept. 12, 1857, packed with passengers who began their journey in San Francisco and were on their way to New York via Panama. For more than a century the ship rested 7,200 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.