Let\'s talk DENIM!!! <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/Denimworkshop.jpg"><br> A.Y. Owen - Boys with their First Car<p> </center> We are currently in the middle of a denim renaissance, and no denim is more valuable than vintage. It is now possible to spend $600 on a pair of new jeans that are an attempt by manufacturers at recreating the look and feel of vintage jeans. But by the day, as more people keep an eye out for them, vintage jeans are getting more and more difficult to come by. Dealers who have been selling vintage jeans for years have far-reaching contacts, making it close to impossible to come upon pieces in places that you might traditionally find other vintage clothing. And of course, due to the utilitarian nature of these garments, fewer people held onto their jeans over the years. I'm not an expert, but I have sold quite a few denim items at a price of $200 and up. I hope that this workshop gives a bit of an overview on how to recognize valuable vintage denim when you come across it, however likely or unlikely the case may be! <p> There are volumes upon volumes of information on the history of denim. Rather than rehash that info here, I'll give some good reference links and book titles at the end of the post. Today I'll start with some hints on what to look for in Levis jeans, the grandaddy of them all. As the week goes on, I'll do my best to answer questions and talk about other brands, most notably Lee and Wrangler, as well as items other than jeans, including jackets and coveralls.<p> <FONT SIZE=6><center><b>Today's Topic - LEVIS</b></center></font><p> When you start to look at vintage Levis, you'll notice there are a lot of details that buyers want to know in order to determine market value. You might be surprised to know that jeans can have a "small e" and/or date to the 1980s and still be valuable. Of course, most jeans from the 80s are *not* valuable. You just need to know what details to look for to determine that value is there. There is some conflicting information out there on exactly *when* certain details were changed, and heaven knows there are a lot of people more knowledgeable than me on exact dates, so I'll focus more on details that I have found to matter when figuring out if a piece is desirable. You'll find that dating an item really doesn't matter - the market knows what it's looking for. I've found it's best just to list the details with clear pictures and not worry so much about trying to put a date on them. The people with the $$ will find your jeans if you list them on ebay, trust me. <p> <b>1) The denim: </b><br> The first thing you notice with vintage denim - and the best way to spot it in a huge pile - is that the color and texture of the material differs quite a bit from current denim. The differences come from changes in the yarn spinning process from ring spinning to open end spinning. Ring spinning was used until the late 60s, and created a more rugged, slubbier, less uniform denim. Synthetic indigo dyes were invented in the late 19th century, and while they have evolved over the years, it's really the yarn spinning technique that gives vintage denim its unique qualities. This is something that is really difficult to see in photos, as denim is notoriously difficult to capture accurately. This is something that comes with firsthand encounters of vintage denim, so take a trip to a local vintage shop that carries denim - you'll get the picture! <p> <b>2) Redline selvage: </b><br> The first thing I ever learned about vintage denim came from hanging out in the rockabilly scene. Fashionable RAB guys cuff their jeans - and they ain't jeans if they ain't got redline selvage. (There are some interesting, if not completely accurate, threads on selvage in jeans at <a href=http://www.superfuture.com/city/supertalk/index.cfm?page=forum&forumID=2&start=1 target="_blank">Supershopper</a>. They do have some VERY knowledgeable denim people there, though!)Anyhoo...when you cuff the jeans, look at the outer seam. This is redline selvage: <p> <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/3_5_02(1).jpg"><br>What's that you say? You don't see a red line? Once upon a time, it probably looked like this: <br> <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/redline1.jpg"><br>but washing and storage may have faded that red line. That's okay, it's still considered "redline selvage". Compare to what you see in today's Levis: <br><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/notredline.jpg"><p></center><br> Most sources agree that redline selvage was present in Levis until 1982.<p> <b>3) The Red Tab: </b><br> Found on the side of the back right pocket, the red tab can be another indicator of age and value. <br> <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/3_5_03(1).jpg"><br>Big E - this tab may be printed on one side on earlier jeans, or both sides with the back text upside down. <p> <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/etab.jpg"><br>Small e - this tab made its debut in the 1971. <p> <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/Rtab.jpg"><br></center>The ® tab is fairly common. I believe that it, along with orange tabs, was used in the 70s and 80s for a time. In any case, like the small "e", this is no reason to rule out high value (this tab came from a pair that went for approximately $200), but definitely not a reason to expect high value. <p> <b>4) Back of top button: </b> The back of the top button on Levis can tell a lot about the age and value. <p> <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/3_5_05(1).jpg"><br>Single digits are desirable. Three digit numbers are later and/or repros.</center><p> <b>5)Leather or paper back patch: </b> There are so many variations here, that I'm going to refer to <a href=http://vintagemotorcyclejackets.com/501xx-tags.htm target="_blank">Vintage Motorcycle Jackets' excellent chart</a><p> <b>6) Hidden rivets: </b><br> <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/OCT-134.jpg"><br>Inside the jeans, check where the back pockets are attached. Do you see copper or silver-tone rivets? If so, these are what is referred to as "hidden rivets". <br> <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/levirodeo8.jpg"><br>Close-up of hidden rivet</center><p> <b>7)Single Stitching vs. Chain Stitching</b><br> There are two places where you may see differences in stitching - in the back waistband and inside the back pockets. Examples here are inside the back pockets. <p> <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/SingleStitch2.jpg"><br>Single stitching is found in older jeans. <p> <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/chainstitch2.jpg"><br>Chain stitching is found in newer jeans.<p></center> <b>8) Offset back belt loop: </b><br> <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/levirodeo11.jpg"><br>Older jeans have an offset belt loop in the back, as earlier sewing machines could not handle that much denim material. (Note: the suspender button off to the side is unusual here - these were custom made rodeo clown pants - also used in the hidden rivet pics above.)<p></center> <b>9) Crotch rivet and buckle back: </b><br> These pictures are taken from a pair of repros of the 1937 201XX Levis that I had.<br> <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/buckle1A(1).jpg"> <br>The crotch rivet ended up not being very practical - it rumor has it that it wasn't very comfortable for cowboys sitting by the campfire. In any case, WWII rationing finally did this little detail in. (Sorry about the lack of a closeup - but I'm sure you get the idea.)<p> <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/buckle4A(1).jpg"> <br>The buckle, or cinch back was much more practical than the crotch rivet. Rather than wear a belt, one could simply cinch the jeans to fit in the back. This, too, was done in by wartime rationing. Another note on rationing - during WWII, the infamous Levis arcuate stitching was replaced by paint. <p></center> Just because I loved these so much, I'll include pics of the 50s custom made rodeo clown jeans I sold last year. These had a 46" waist, and measured 24" from the waist to the crotch - thus the suspender buttons that usually aren't seen on 50s Levis. <br> <center><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/route66gal/OCT-124.jpg"><p> <b>A few excellent links:</b><br> <a href=http://vintagemotorcyclejackets.com/index-denim.htm target="_blank">Vintage Motorcycle Jackets (and denim, too!) </a><br> <a href=http://denimjunkies.com/index.htm target="_blank">Denim Junkies</a><br> <a href=http://farley.com/ target="_blank">Farley.com</a><br> <a href=http://superfuture.com/city/supertalk/ target="_blank"> Supershopper message board here - some true denim junkies reside here <br> <a href=http://www.levistrauss.com/anniversary/main.html target="_blank">Levis Anniversary Page</a><br> <a href=http://www.levistrauss.com/about/history/denim.htm target="_blank">Levis History Page</a><br> <a href=http://www.levistrauss.com/about/history/timeline.asp target="_blank">Levis Timeline</a><br> <a href=http://www.olah.com/ target="_blank">Denim Survival Guide</a><br> <a href=http://www.wrangler-europe.com/BlueBell/eu/BBhome.html target="_blank">Wrangler Blue Bell Page</a><p> Unfortunately, I get an "account has been suspended" at one of the best online references I've seen - http://www.milkybitz.com/levis.htm . Hope to find up what's up with them soon. <p> Book links and LOTS MORE to come...</center><p> At this point, I'll go ahead and open it up for questions on Levis jeans. The details that determine value for Levis could fill volumes - but these are the basics on what I look for when looking at Levis.