A pair of work pants recovered from an 1857 shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina and described as the ”oldest known pair of jeans in the world” have sold for USD 114,000 (INR 94 lakhs). SS Central America, known as the Ship of Gold, was traveling from Panama to New York in September 1857 when it sank in a hurricane with 425 people aboard. Explorers found the pants in a trunk belonging to John Dement, a veteran of the Mexican-American War from Oregon.
US auction house Holabird claims the Levi Strauss Company, one of the oldest and most popular jeans manufacturers in the world, potentially made the jeans. But there is still doubt surrounding the claim. The discovered pair is 16 years older than Levi’s. The San Francisco-based company made its first pair in 1873.
The jeans were among 270 never-before-offered artifacts from the California Gold Rush era, which all sold for £815,000. The SS Central America was carrying treasure from San Francisco when it sank 7,200 feet deep in the Atlantic. Tonnes of gold coins and ingots were in the ship’s treasure room, the keys to which sold for £84,155.
Sunken treasures have recovered many fascinating objects over the years. These provide us with a glimpse into how people lived before our time. In the early 1990s, a team of divers, led by marine archaeologist Mike Nash, ventured into a shipwreck. They found sealed glass bottles containing yeast that was still alive. The merchant ship Sydney Cove was transporting goods from India to the then-British colony of Port Jackson when it sank near Tasmania’s Preservation Island in 1797. The site’s frigid waters preserved many of the goods onboard, including the alcohol.
Dozens of Byzantine-era ships uncovered at the archaeological site of Yenikapı in Turkey unearthed a ‘smart tablet’. The 1200-year-old artifact consists of five intricately carved wooden slabs stacked on top of each other. It apparently served many functions, with wax panels for etching notes and a compartment with small weights. The largest monetary treasure haul was on the wreck code-named Black Swan, discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration in 2007 off of Gibraltar. The salvage team reportedly found 17 tons of coins valued at $500 million.