Archive for July, 2016

501 Jeans

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The making of the 501® Levi jeans

A LONG STORY TO REMEMBER FOR JOHNNIE!
I was sitting on the sofa next to my grandson, who asked my if he would be able to wear the 501® Levi jeans just for tall and big men like his dad wore.  I told him I could tell he was going to be big and tall, but he would have to decide he if he wanted 501® Levi jeans.
He pointed it out to me how much his dad loved his 501® jeans so much that he kept them in the freezer sometimes.  Now, my grandson, age 10, did not know that most men did not clean their jeans when they owned a pair of 501® Levi jeans.
I will tell you the drama about how once the Levi 501® jeans were made by a man by the name of Jacob Davis as well as Levi Strauss.
        Not just by Levi alone grandma ?
Now Johnnie was a precocious child and was always interested in my stories about real people and about the 501® Levi jeans his dad wore.
Jacob Youphes was born in 1831 of a Jewish family

Riga in 1830's

and in a town named Riga which was a part of the Russian Empire. This map shows Riga is now in Latina.
In 1854, when he was 23  he immigrated to America and settled in New York City.  There he changed his name from Youphes to Davis.  He was a tailor and so he operated his tailor shop for awhile before he left for Maine.   Later, in 1856, he left Maine and traveled to San Francisco.  However, he did not stay long, so in 1858, he once again moved to Weatherville.
Yes and it was at this time, it was believed,  he worked as a journeyman tailor.
        What is a journeyman?
He is a person who has served as an apprenticeship at a trade and is certified to work at it assisting another person.  Now the show must go on.
In 1858, he was on the move again.  But  this time he moved into Western Canada.  While there he met and married a German immigrant named Annie Parksher and had 6 children by her.  During the time he was in Canada, he tried his luck panning for gold and also sold tobacco and wholesale pork in nearby Virgina.
In 1867, he returned to San Francisco with his wife and family.   Then when that did not work out well for them, they eventually moved to Reno Nevada to start his Tailor store.  In his tailor shop in Reno, he also sold tents, horse blankets, and  wagon covers to the railroad workers on the Central Pacific Railroad.   He worked with heavy duty denim cloth to make these products  which he bought from Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco.   And he used rivet to make them stronger.
         Oh wow, now we can talk about the Levi Strauss 501®                    original jeans?”
Not quite yet,   We still have more story to tell first.  Levi Strauss sold dry good and  heavy duty material .   Davis was a creative person and later experimented using  copper rivets to reinforce the stitches in the pockets and seams of the pants to make them stronger at the stress points.  Here is a picture of rivets which is found in a jean image from Levi Strauss & Co.    a rivet
Here is the story about how Mr. Davis used  rivets to make the pockets and seams stronger in a pair of pants.   In 1870 a customer walked in the door.  She told Mr. Davis how her husband was upset by his pockets coming loose and the pants lasting just a short time before falling off,  so she begged Mr. Davis to make suitable working pants that he could wear for a long time.   He knew her husband, who was a woodcutter, was angry so much that even his own wife was concerned about the pants too.
        Can you imagine his pants coming off when he got ready to           chop a tree?    That is funny, but it wasn’t for the                                   woodcutter!

 

And what did Mr. Davis do?  He wanted to do his best.  By accident, he saw some rivets nearby where he was working and decided to use them on the pants.  He discovered they held the pockets and the seams so much better.  The customer was very pleased that the pants Davis made for him did not easily rip apart.
So it was Jacob W, Davis who first made these reinforced pants  And Levi Strauss was the supplier of the pants.  Yes, Johnnie, these pants with the rivets later became known as denim jeans.  But remember, the pants were not called jeans at the time.
Before long, Davis had so much work he did not know what to do with all the demand for his jeans
        He had a lot of business selling his jeans.  So what happened         next?
Well, he knew the importance of his reinforced jeans, so he wrote Levi Strauss and asked him for his financial  banking and help in the filling out the forms of the patent.  Mr. Strauss said yes and together on May 23, they received the patient number— wait till I open this book that has the maps, pictures, and the U. S.  patient number from the old United States Patent Office.   (She opens a book.)  It says the number was 139,121 and that was to be  “used for improvements in fastening pocket openings”.  It was issued in the name of Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss & Co.

Davis and Strauss Patent

 

That same year, Jacob Davis started the double orange stitch on the back pocket for a special design.   It was believed that the thread and the design be the same color as the rivets, but because the information was lost in the earthquake in 1906, the purpose for the color is just a guess.  This feature became a Trademark and was registered with the Patent Office too.
By then Levi Strauss had a large tailor shop in San Francisco for producing Davis’ working pants,   Consequently, the Davis family moved back to San Francisco for Davis to run the shop.  Eventually, Mr. Davis became the manager of the manufacturing plants for Levi Strauss which included the work shirts and the overalls.  He did so, until his death in 1906 in San Francisco.
Now, Johnnie, It’s time for you to go to bed.  We’ll finish this story tomorrow evening.
SCENE 2,  THE NEXT EVENING WITH JOHNNIE
The next evening when her grandson was again sitting next to her, she began telling the boy about the drama again.  Now I will tell you the drama about Levi Strauss, she told him.
Well! Levi Strauss was born on February 26, 1829, in Bavaria, Germany–a long time ago Johnny.  He had 6 brothers and sisters. And they were very poor because Jewish people were forced to live in a certain areas where there were poor housing and few job opportunities.   They were discriminated against; in other words, they were separated and singled out with disfavor.
His father was a peddler who traveled around the country trying to make enough money for his family.  When the father died,  the two oldest bothers left for America where they later opened a dry good’s store.
        What is a dry good’s store mean?
A dry good store sells cloth, clothes, sewing needles and thread, flour, oats and things like that.  But let’s continue with this drama. You remember Jacob Davis?  Well! Levi Strauss was the one who helped Mr. Davis get his patient on his rivets.
Now Levi finally was able to go to New York where he worked for his brothers who already had their dry goods store.  He learned how to peddle from his brothers in in New York.  On his way to San Francisco, he sold all the material his older brother had given him to sell on his trip,except for the canvas like one makes for tents.
        I remember my tent is made of canvas!   Sorry grandma,                   what happened next?
When he got to San Francisco,  Levi eventually opened up his own dry goods’ store.
One day, a local miner came in the store and asked Levi if he sold pants.  Now, Levi was a smart businessman.  There were a lot of miners working in the mines looking for gold.  So he decided to make pants out of canvass that he had when he left New York.  That is when Levis® were born!!  Johnnie opened his mouth wide and nodded in agreement!!
When he ran out of canvas, his brothers in New York sent him a new fabric, or material–a cloth called denim.   It was the same material he sent to Mr. Davis.   Denim was a soft, durable material which was stronger,  more comfortable, and easier to wear than the canvas material.
In 1872 Levi got a letter from Jacob W, Davis.  Remember that Davis had his own business as a tailor in Nevada and was a regular customer of Levi Strauss, because he needed material for his small business in Reno.  In this letter, he told Levi how he made pants for his customers using metal rivets which Levi found interesting and different.
Well! Davis did not have any money for a patient process, so he suggested that Levi  pay for the paperwork—it took a lot of money for a patient process and there was a lot of paperwork too.  Levi was enthusiastic about the idea and on May 20, 1870, what happened Johnny?
        That’s when both Davis and Levi got the patient.  I don’t                  remember the number.
Yes, it was granted to both men.  And the number was 139, 121.
Levi Strauss knew there would be a great demand for his new waist overalls, which was the old name for jeans.  So the factory on Fremont and Market Street was opened with Jacob Davis, after moving from Reno to San Francisco, as manager.
At the end of the 19th century, he left his business to his nephews to run.  Levi had his other business and philanthropic interest to keep him occupied.  He was active in many things.  He was also on the board of several companies.

On September 26, 1902, Levi Strauss died peacefully in his bed.

END OF DRAMA

Now it’s time for bed Johnny.  We will talk more tomorrow about    501® Levi jeans-for tall and big men.                                                 

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