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Very Old Jeans Found!

Jeans that were made in the late 1800s were found in an old mine. And they look a lot like today’s jeans!

Side by side photos of the front and back of some very worn jeans, laid flat.


These Levi’s jeans were made in the 1880s. These are not the jeans that were found by Frank Schlichting—but they’re a lot like them!

When do you think people started wearing jeans? A museum in Yuma, Arizona, is home to some VERY old jeans. They were made in the late 1800s!

The seven pairs of jeans were discovered by Frank Schlichting in February 2020, in a nearby mine that is no longer in use. Schlichting explores many mines and makes YouTube videos of his adventures. The museum owns the mine near Yuma and had given Schlichting permission to explore it.  

The YouTube video of the discovery shows Schlichting and Gabe Romo, who works with him, going 250 feet (76.2 meters) underground, into the mine where they had previously discovered the jeans under some rubble. The two men then use a pickaxe to uncover the seven pairs.

The jeans would have been worn by men who worked in and around the mines. Invented in 1873, blue jeans were designed to be worn by miners because they were less likely to be damaged than other types of pants. Jeans were, and still are, made from tough denim. Rivets (those little metal things) are used to hold together the fabric and prevent tearing. Styles have changed over the years, but the jeans worn by miners looked a lot like the jeans we wear today!

Jeans from the 1800s are extremely rare, making them very valuable. In October 2022, a pair of jeans from that time period sold for $87,000.

But the jeans Schlichting found won’t be sold. Instead, they’ll be kept at the Castle Dome Museum, near where they were found.

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Fun Fact

Animation of a pocketwatch going into a jeans pocket as an old-time miner smiles.

© AOosthuizen—iStock/Getty Images Plus, © New Africa/, W.P.A. California Folk Music Project Collection—American Folklife Center/Library of Congress (AFC 1940/001); Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Look closely at a pair of jeans, and you’ll see a tiny pocket in front—but only on one side. That pocket was originally intended as a place where men could store their pocket watches!

Who Invented Jeans?

Pictorial Press Ltd./Alamy

This is an ad for blue jeans from Levi Strauss and Company. The ad is from 1874!

If you ever wear jeans, you can thank a tailor named Jacob Davis. In 1871, Davis was living in Reno, Nevada, when a woman asked him to make a pair of tough pants. The woman’s husband worked in a mine, and his pants were always getting torn. 

Davis decided to make pants that were held together with strong metal pieces called rivets. It was a great idea—so great that Davis wasn’t the only person who thought of it. Davis soon heard that a man named Levi Strauss was making similar pants and selling them in his family’s store in San Francisco, California. Davis contacted Strauss, and the two men decided to work together. In 1873, they filed a patent, which is a piece of paper from the U.S. government that says no one else can sell the same invention. Then, Davis and Strauss started selling their blue jeans.

The first pairs of jeans cost three dollars, which is worth about 74 dollars today. But for many mine workers, having a pair of pants that would last was worth the expense. The jeans proved to be very popular.

Jeans didn’t start to become popular for everyday wear until many years later. In the 1950s, some teenagers started to wear them. For a long time, most adults thought jeans were a little too informal. Grown-ups didn’t begin to wear jeans until about the 1970s. Today, jeans are everywhere!

Clothes of All Kinds!

Animation showing different styles of jeans moving across a background of denim.

© vectorikart—iStock/Getty Images Plus, © Sandamali Fernando/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Jeans were made for working, but now they’re worn everywhere! What about other clothing? Read about why we wear what we wear at Britannica School!

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Word of the Day


Part of speech:



: staying strong and in good condition over a long period of time

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