tv Forbes on Fox FOX Business October 8, 2017 7:00am-7:30am EDT
catch me on fox news channel sunday at 10:00 a.m. eastern. thank you for joining me this week. see you next time. >> a wild west pioneer... >> there's a saying, "the cowards didn't come." so you had to be brave. >> he truly was the john wayne of the 19th century. >> he leaves behind a trunk of relics... and a classic, woven into the fabric of america itself. >> there was a pair of old blue jeans in here. >> what'd they look like? >> they said that they were the oldest unworn pair they had ever seen. >> that's unbelievable. >> so are the lengths to which folks go for vintage old denim. >> finding any levi's pre-1900 is a massive rarity. that's the holy grail. >> what do you think they're worth? ♪ [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ]
[ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] ♪ >> i'm jamie colby in tucson, arizona. wagon trains used to pass right through here on their way to california during the gold rush, and one of the rough-and-ready pioneers who helped settle this area left behind a very strange inheritance. i'm here to get the skinny on it. >> my name's jock taylor. in 2009, i inherited a wooden trunk full of family heirlooms going back more than a century. now i'm told i could pocket a small fortune. >> i meet jock, a 60-year-old electrical engineer, at his home here in tucson. >> hi, i'm jamie. >> i'm jock. >> i heard you have something very unusual from your great-great grandfather. >> i certainly do. come on in. >> jock shows me that inheritance -- an old trunk that's been passed down through the family for more
than a century. >> the trunk contained the family bible, a very ornate saddle blanket, a pair of old jeans -- >> jeans? who keeps jeans? >> they've been in the trunk for so long, i don't think that my mother really knew what else to do with them. >> according to family lore, all the items in the trunk, including the jeans, once belonged to this man, jock's great-great grandfather, solomon warner, one of tucson's original pioneers. >> very distinguished. >> old solomon's story, and the story of those dungarees, begins far from tucson in upstate new york, where he's born in 1811. as a young man, he heads west, in search of adventure and wealth. >> a lot of farm boys or small-town boys in new york couldn't wait to get away from home. >> jim turner has written several books on the history of arizona and its important pioneers like solomon warner. >> he worked on steamboats
in the 1830s, and then he went to the gold rush. after that, he went to south america, looking for gold there. >> but the gold thing doesn't pan out. solomon returns to america in 1853, still searching for a way to strike it rich. the following year, the united states completes the gadsden purchase from mexico, adding nearly 30,000 square miles, including tucson, along our southern border. solomon sees a new frontier to be conquered. >> what makes pioneer status? >> the willing to risk. there's a saying, "the cowards didn't come," and so you had to be brave to come out to the frontier. >> a big, powerful man, 6'1/2" tall, solomon hauls 13 mules loaded with merchandise into the new territory and opens a general store in tucson, then just a small town of less than 1,000 people.
>> he was the first to sell american goods in tucson. >> who were his customers? >> the butterfield stage came through tucson, and whatever you wanted, you had to buy it from solomon warner. >> as the town grows, so do warner's riches, but his business interests are interrupted when civil war breaks out in 1861. >> tucson was under the confederacy and captain sherod hunter asked all of the citizens to swear an oath to the confederacy. >> what about solomon warner? was he game? >> he wouldn't do it, and when he wouldn't do it, they confiscated all of his goods. >> solomon retreats to mexico, then returns to tucson after the war to reclaim his store. but another kind of bloodshed breaks out along his trade routes. this is, after all, the wild, wild west. >> was that an easy thing to do in those days, getting goods back and forth? >> it was dangerous. >> several times, he had been shot by arrows from indians
when he was bringing dry goods back and forth. >> sounds like a hollywood character in the making. >> it was amazing that not only did he survive apache attacks, he lived to be 89. >> when solomon dies in 1899, tucson's in mourning. >> there was a great ceremony because he was a revered citizen at that time. >> after solomon's death, his son, john, packs up some of his father's belongings into a trunk that bears the family name, and over the years, the cedar chest gets handed down through the generations. >> john solomon warner, when he passed away, it went to his only daughter, josefina, and then everything that she had went to my mother, elva. >> why has the family held on to it? >> it's an heirloom. my mother always used it for storing ancient family relics. she was very proud of it. >> the trunk stays in elva's living room until she passes away in 2009.
then her son jock, one of four heirs, moves the crate to his home and takes an inventory of its contents, including those old blue jeans. >> what'd they look like? >> they were very weird jeans. they didn't have belt loops, and they only had one pocket on the back. they looked like a pair of old blue jeans that had been washed once and then folded and put away. >> weren't they worn out? >> they are in like-new condition. >> like brand-new? >> like brand-new. >> and on the back of those spotless jeans, a famous marking. >> they had the leather patch on the back that said levi's on them. >> that's right -- levi's, the most iconic blue jeans of all time. >> did you just take the jeans out of the trunk and try them on? >> actually, they're way too big for me. they come up almost to my chest. >> jock assumes jeans that big probably belonged to old solomon.
but he can't say for sure what went into and came out of that chest in the 110 years since his great-great grandpa's death. >> any proof of purchase? >> not that i know of. >> a picture of him wearing them? >> no. >> you sure it's not just family lore? >> i don't know. >> what could they be worth? a bundle, says this prospector, who actually mines for ancient blue jeans. >> true vintage denim can be worth thousands of dollars. >> for a reason you might not expect. >> all the earlier jeans that they had went up in smoke. >> that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question... the answer after the break. today we're going to talk about trucks. which of these truck brands do you think offers best in class hd horsepower and the most capable off-road midsize pickup? i'd go ram. i would put it on ford.
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[ wind howls ] >> so, what's the best-selling blue-jean brand after levi's? it's "a," wrangler. the original cowboy brand has been outfitting rodeo stars and stars on rodeo drive since 1904. ♪ >> in 2009, jock taylor inherits a wooden trunk that's been in the family for over a century. it was purchased by his great-great grandfather, solomon warner, who founded the first american store here in tucson back in 1853. >> he had that pioneer spirit.
he saw the opportunity here, and he could see that the city had potential to grow. >> inside that trunk is a pair of vintage levi's blue jeans. >> so, they were pretty ratty? >> no, they actually were very well-preserved. it's cedar, and it protected the jeans very well. >> if they're indeed solomon's from way back when, the jeans are also a remarkably well-preserved relic of a completely different pioneer success story. mike harris, author of "jeans of the old west," knows all about that. >> how did this whole levi boom start? >> well, in 1870, jacob davis, who was a tailor in reno, nevada, he was approached by a woman who was married to a woodcutter. >> turns out that her woodcutter husband constantly rips through his pants pocket. it's a common problem. whether concealing a pistol or hauling heavy gold nuggets, the weak pockets just can't
handle the stress. >> so jacob davis gets the idea. he saw the rivets on his workbench, and he decided to put those in the pocket corners. >> adding rivets to pockets -- it's one of those seat-of-the-pants innovations that make america great. the result? stronger dungarees that can stand up to the tough work thrown at them by the miners and laborers of the day. >> and after about a year, he was getting so many orders, he couldn't fill them. >> davis, who needs capital and manpower, goes into business with wealthy san francisco merchant levi strauss. on may 20, 1873, american blue jeans are born. a pair costs about a buck. levi's markets their denim overalls as the uniform of the working class. >> who bought them at the time? >> miners in the west, farmers, mechanics -- anybody that did hard labor would have bought levi's back then.
>> that's because workers love how tough and durable the pants are, as this pair from 1890 proves. >> from the 1800s? i mean, they feel like they could be right now. they really could withstand a lot. >> absolutely. >> so it was all about strength? >> it was all about strength. >> now, here's something really important to remember in this "strange inheritance" tale. in 1906, the epic san francisco earthquake devastates the levi's headquarters... >> their building, it was completely leveled. >> ...along with all of levi's records and inventory. the first 30 years of the company's history -- gone. of course, for the next century and more, the company thrives. indeed, the pants it manufactures become an american icon. think about it. is there anything the world loves more about america than blue jeans? they're right up there with blockbuster movies, fast-food burgers, and rock 'n' roll.
so you probably aren't surprised there's a demand for vintage jeans. but i bet you would be surprised how far some people will go to meet that demand. >> true vintage denim can be worth thousands of dollars, and finding any levi's pre-1900 is a massive rarity. that's the holy grail. that's what we're all looking for. >> brit eaton is a modern-day prospector who scours old west barns, ghost towns, and mining sites -- not for precious metals, but antique overalls. >> my gold is what the gold miners were wearing while they were seeking their gold. in order to be a great denim hunter, you have to be ruthless, relentless, and rugged. i've rappelled into pits, i've killed rattlesnakes to get by. there are so many potential dangers. >> exploring abandoned mineshafts can be treacherous, but often worth the risk. >> finding things in mines is the equivalent of big-game hunting.
you find a time capsule just sitting there in the middle of nowhere. the feeling of seeking something is a true american sort of pioneer feeling. you're literally filling a gap in in history. >> and that's a good way to pose the question facing our heir, jock taylor. does his strange inheritance fill a gap in history, or are they closer to the jeans that fill the gap at the mall? >> they were in such great shape that i thought, "why are they showing me new jeans?" >> stay tuned for "p.s.i." -- pants seam investigation -- next. >> here's another quiz question for you... the answer when we return. [vo] the grille is distinctive.
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[ wind howls ] >> so, who said, "i had holes in my jeans well before it was fashionable"? it's "b," kenny rogers, who "knew when to fold them." >> a cedar box inherited by jock taylor of tucson, arizona, contains a cache of old family heirlooms that he assumes have been sitting in the trunk since his great-great grandfather solomon warner passed away in 1899... including this curious item -- a pair of seemingly never-worn levi's jeans. >> how many years do you think those jeans may have been in that trunk? >> in excess of 110 years. >> so jock and his wife, pat, take the levi's to a traveling appraisal show here in town with high expectations. they walk up to the table of daniel buck soules, owner
of daniel buck auctions. >> they had a pillowcase, and i had no idea what they had. and when they pulled out these jeans, they were in such great shape that i thought, "why are they showing me new jeans?" >> so, you were suspicious at first? >> oh, absolutely. but it wasn't until i really started looking at them that i went, "okay, these are a little bit better than i think they are." >> just how much better? daniel's detective work begins with the obvious -- these belong in the big-and-tall department -- waist, 44, length, 37. >> he had to be 6'6", 6'8". he was a mountain of a man. >> next, he examines the leather tag. >> does this identify the jean in some way? >> it does. they started adding this around 1886, but they still use that. even to today, it's still there. >> that sets the base. the jeans are no older than 1886, but they could have been made any time after that. so daniel turns his attention
to those famous pocket rivets. >> one of the problems they actually had was the placement of the rivets. if you were a cowboy and on a saddle, the outside rivets would wear on saddles. what you find is they had to cover these with cloth at one point. >> those covered rivets first appear in 1937, but jock's are exposed, meaning the overalls are at least older than world war ii. daniel searches the waistline for more clues. >> there's no belt loops. >> there's no belt loops because of the fact at this time, they only had suspenders, and it wasn't until 1922 that they actually added the belt loops. >> we're back to the roaring twenties, and the pockets reveal one more thread to the story. >> when levi's first started manufacturing jeans, you had the two front pockets and the single back pocket, and this other pocket, which is for change or a pocket watch. and it wasn't until around 1901 they added the fifth pocket in the back. >> which is missing on jock's
jeans. so now we've narrowed it down to that 15-year window between '86 and '01. finally, daniel spots a stamp on the inside of the pocket that helps age the overalls all the way to 1893. jeans historian mike harris is amazed. >> how unique is this pair? >> to find an 1893 pair of levi -- very scarce. this could be one of two examples known, so it's very rare. if one shows up, then it's quite valuable. >> and to find an 1893 pair inperfectcondition? unheard of. so how much cash could jock expect for his strange inheritance? >> size really does matter when it comes to vintage levi's. >> find out next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website, strangeinheritance.com. ♪
>> now back to "strange inheritance." >> jock taylor is one of four heirs to inherit this pair of antique levi's jeans, authenticated by daniel soules to be from 1893. so, what are they worth? >> $10,000? >> keep going. >> $20,000? >> and more. >> the reason's not just that there are vintage blue-jean collectors around the world. it's also because of the levi-strauss company itself, whose headquarters were destroyed in the 1906 san francisco earthquake, along with the archives of their early denim. >> are they trying to get these historic jeans back? >> they actually are. so when a good pair of jeans do come on the market, they are out there trying to purchase them. the last pair of blue jeans that sold from the 1880s, it's my understanding that levi's paid six figures for them. >> a hundred thou for an old pair of jeans? jock reaches out to levi's.
>> they said that they were probably the oldest unworn pair of levi's they had ever seen. >> and jock says they offer him $50,000 for them. it's a lot of dough, but the family's expecting more. they discuss it, then turn down the offer. >> if levi strauss is valuing a ripped-up, torn pair that's maybe a year or two older at $100,000, i would think that a pair that's never been worn from the same era would be at least worth that much. >> so jock tells auctioneer daniel soules to set a date to sell great-great grandpa's pants to the highest bidder. >> it's a risk, that's true, but when you consider that it's the only unworn pair of blue jeans of that era, i think, yeah, it's a one-of-a-kind item. >> i think the most they could possibly get from a collector is $40,000. >> denim hunter brit eaton believes jock and his family are thinking too big for their britches. >> the vintage denim market
is incredibly volatile. i think if levi strauss is willing to pay $50,000 for them, take the money and run. >> is he right? november 5, 2016 is the date we're to find out. then, just before the levi's go up on the block, daniel postpones the sale due to technical glitches. a few days later, he's talking to a buyer from japan, but the jeans are not a good fit. >> at 44 waist and 37 length, the jeans were too big for them. they were planning on purchasing them to wear. so that deal fell through. it was very depressing. >> size really does matter when it comes to vintage levi's. if it's either too little or too big, it's going to be harder to establish a value, or just not as valuable. >> levi's would not comment on any negotiations with jock, but we do know he has at least one sizable offer very much on the table. >> there's absolutely a market for jock's levi's. i personally would be willing to pay $35,000 for them.
i'll make that mark in blood right now if you want. >> what would ol' solomon warner do? jock's pretty sure his great-great granddaddy would tell him to sit tight. he's positive the frontier merchant is somewhere off in the sunset, grinning. >> for him to know that his jeans that he left after his passing were worth $50,000, i think he would think the world has gone crazy. >> now, that's some tailor-made "close" from an heir not only left big shoes to fill, but a big pair of pants to boot. >> everybody has a pair of their favorite super-comfortable, worn-out jeans, right? these are mine. i can't believe i'm wearing them on a shoot, but i wonder what old levi strauss would think of clothing stores selling pre-ripped denim, often at two or three times the cost of a pristine pair. what's up with kids these days -- too lazy to wear out their own jeans?
i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> a gold ring... >> it might have been an engagement ring. >> from the great jane austen? >> i expected it to be a fairly flimsy story. >> a story of romance, mystery, and money. >> money was critical. i mean, it was about survival. >> but from a british icon to an american idol... >> i probably could have snuck it out of the country. but i would've been, like, banned. >> inheriting a national treasure can get rather complicated. >> did england know that the ring existed? >> no. >> wow. [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ]