Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Show Off and Tell

The most anticipated book of the year for denim lovers and vintage collectors comes from Michael Harris of Deadgrass. "Jeans of the Old West: A History" is expected to shed light on a number of legendary but little known workwear brands in the late 1800's in San Francisco. From what I have heard so far the publication is slated to become the important ever written on American overalls history given how little even seasoned vintage collectors know about the rare, non-Levi's denim pieces featured in the book.

Harris has been collecting old denim for some years now and to show off the caliber of treasures he will present in his book he sends us some awe-inspiring pictures. First up is what's left of a jean with the pronouncement of "Spring Bottom," though difficult to see, on what appears to be heavy twill pocketing.

In Harris' own words:
"The pant is most of the left side and fragments of the one back pocket. First picture is the stamped pocket bag. The pocket bag at the top says 'celebrated copper riveted.' Below the last phrase it says 'overalls spring bottom pants.'"

I have not yet had the opportunity to thoroughly study vintage Levi's Spring Bottom Pants but Harris's piece does not resemble the Spring Bottoms I have examined before. The garment pattern, construction and seams do not resemble the typically dandyish, flare-legged, and tailored trousers. Perhaps the pocketing print is simply proclaiming that Levi Strauss & Co. makes both overalls AND Spring Bottom Pants? It is difficult to tell from the pictures of this very dirty and aged garment if the denim is run of the mill Spring Bottoms fabric of which the weft yarn is twisted with a goldish brown or other colored yarn. The next time I visit Los Angeles I will be sure to request examining this fantastic piece.

Jeans of the Old West has just been made available from its publisher Schiffer Books and I can't wait to get my copy.

UPDATED 7/22/10: After some deliberation both Harris and I agree these are in fact not Spring Bottom Pants. Corroborating material is expected to come my way but given that these pants have no spring at the bottom they are definitely not SBP's. We are speculating now these are No. 2's. More on that later, perhaps.


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