World’s oldest known jeans found in 1857 shipwreck sell for $114,000

A pair of men’s work pants that auction officials believe could be the world’s oldest pair of jeans have sold for $114,000, the BBC reports.

The white pants were found in a sunken trunk in a shipwreck in 1857 near the coast of North Carolina.

They feature a five-button fly and are believed to have belonged to a miner.

The jeans were among 270 Gold Rush-era memorabilia that sold for nearly $1m total, according to Holabird Western Americana Collections.

The auction took place in Reno, Nevada in the western US, as well as online, on 3 December.

“Those miner’s jeans are like the first flag on the moon, a historic moment in history,” said Dwight Manley, the managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group, which owned the artefacts. “There are no earlier five-button fly jeans in existence.”

The items came from the SS Central America, also known as the “ship of gold”, a 85-meter steamer that brought passengers to and from Central America to the east coast of the US during the 1850s.

The ship sank during a Category two hurricane in September 1857, killing 425 out of 578 passengers and crew members.

Passengers sank with an estimated 21 tonnes of gold coins and artefacts. The shipwreck was first discovered in 1988.

The men’s work pants were recovered from a trunk belonging to John Dement, a man from Oregon, who may have purchased them in San Francisco, the auction company said.

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