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tv   Stossel  FOX Business  March 4, 2018 5:00am-6:00am EST

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provide information. in china the tech companies are being closely closed in. they can't do this and that. why can't we do what we want regarding aluminumm and steal. >> >> from dusty boxes forgotten in the attic... emerge military artifacts handed down across five generations... >> the writing is unbelievable. i can't believe it's in such good shape. >> ...an heirloom that may be a long-lost piece of history. >> i think this is a once-in-a-lifetime find. i'd never seen one before, and i don't expect to see one again. >> value is just rising with literally every fold. >> a war, a map, a mystery. >> i had a little momentary roller coast there. >> will it lead to one family's hidden treasure? [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ]
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>> i'm jamie colby, and today i'm in birmingham, alabama, which is in the rolling foothills of the appalachians. they say that wars are fought to change maps, and this episode of "strange inheritance" is actually about a map, a very old map, and one that survives in a family whose history spans from texas to virginia and then back here to alabama. >> my name is patrick martin. my parents died in 1999, and my sister and i inherited the house and contents. we were surprised when we figured out what it contained. >> the house that patrick and his sister, peggy, inherited here in birmingham is now their home. patrick, thank you so much for having me over. >> it's our pleasure. >> patrick's parents moved to alabama from maryland and bought the house in the 1960s. patrick, an architect, returns to take care of his ill parents in 1994 but then has his own health
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scare. >> i had a quintuple bypass surgery here. >> patrick's heart trouble leads him to an early retirement at age 47. with lots of time on his hands, he starts rummaging through the house, including the attic. it's here that he comes across a box he remembers from his childhood. this looks very, very old, just right from the start. the box contains family letters and legal documents, some going back to the 18th century. >> this packet is letters from the 1780s. >> patrick also discovers an old u.s. army muster book, an official ledger listing soldiers and keeping track of their pay. the writing is unbelievable. i can't believe it's in such good shape. >> this book is put into two sections -- the war of 1812 and then the mexican war. >> patrick's family has a long history of military service. in 1846, his great-great-grandfather, nicholas martin, leads a virginia battalion
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in the mexican-american war, one of the most controversial in u.s. history. >> although the war is very little known among americans, it's actually the most important war fought between two neighbors in the western hemisphere. in 1845, texas is annexed by the united states, but the texas boundary claim now becomes an american problem. >> and, it turns out, an opportunity for president james k. polk, a slaveholding tennessee democrat who believes god has ordained the united states to expand across the continent. many opponents of war with mexico condemn this idea of manifest destiny as simply the conquest of territory for new slave states -- including a fresh-faced freshman congressman from illinois. >> abraham lincoln is an opponent of this war. he gives a series of speeches blasting the polk administration. >> the war -- the first in history documented with photographs -- breaks out in april 1846.
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mexico surrenders in 1848, losing half its national domain. >> the united states acquires not just the american southwest, but also california. >> left unresolved -- where slavery will be allowed in those territories. >> the debate over whether those territories are going to be slave or free is going to be so contentious and so divisive that it's ultimately going to lead to the civil war in 1861. >> patrick's box contains a number of civil war items, too -- cool stuff like some certificates from the confederate postal service. he can't be sure how all those items came to his family. some most likely are from that great-great-grandfather who fought in mexico. >> the other possibility is his son hudson, who was a lawyer, and he represented soldiers. >> the artifacts are passed down through the generations, ultimately making their way
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to the family estate in virginia. when patrick's grandfather dies in 1956 and the family is clearing out the house, his father winds up with the historical items by chance. >> on a whim, he just said, "we'll take those six boxes." >> the boxes end up in the basement of patrick's childhood home outside washington, d.c. they become a way to kill boredom for a curious 12-year-old boy. patrick, did you really play with all this stuff as a kid? >> i did. i did. i loved the boxes. you'd find letters from the civil war talking about troop movements or political discussions just before lincoln's election. and you felt a connection to family and a fun connection to history, so -- >> your imagination could run wild. >> absolutely. >> one of his favorite items -- an old map of texas. >> it was a fun toy. i just enjoyed the fact that texas was so different.
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it had indian villages, it had forts -- it had all kinds of interesting things for a 10- or a 12-year-old. >> somehow, the map avoids being used to make a fort or a halloween mask. >> i showed it to my parents, and they knew i was playing with it, and that was fine because it was just the old texas map. >> as patrick grows up, the map and the other items in the boxes become distant childhood memories. in 1967, his parents move to birmingham, where the boxes are stored and forgotten once again -- that is until patrick moves here to take care of his folks and rediscovers them. his parents pass away in 1999 within 10 days of each other. the family home and those timeworn boxes are now patrick and his sister, peggy's, inheritance. proud of his family heritage, he shows off the heirlooms during dinner parties.
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>> i'm crazy about history, and this was a resource that i wanted to share with people. >> he even brings them out to the thanksgiving table. >> so, this thanksgiving dinner, literally between the gravy bowl and the turkey, you bring the map out and put it on the table, this table? >> that's true. it was the end of dinner, so it was mostly messy plates, and that probably made it worse, you know, as far as danger to the map. at the time, its value was the joy it would give you looking at the thing. >> but by 2013, patrick wonders if he might reap another kind of joy from his strange inheritance. to be blunt, he could use the money. since retiring early at age 47, patrick has accumulated substantial credit-card debt -- not to mention a home-equity loan that he and his sister, peggy, took out. >> the credit-card debt is monumental. we have a small home-equity loan
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that this potentially could pay off. >> patrick notices than an auction house is holding an appraisal fair in birmingham. >> i thought, "i'll throw a box of stuff together and see if anything's worth anything." >> at the fair, patrick cautiously breaks out the old family war stuff. >> did you feel like one would be worth more than the others? >> i actually thought the muster book was gonna be of more significant monetary value. as it turned out, he says he thinks the muster book probably would be a couple of thousand dollars. and i thought, "well, that's nice, you know, but it's not life-changing." >> patrick shows a few more heirlooms and gets the same tepid response. down to his final item, he unfolds his childhood plaything, that old texas map. what happened when you pulled the map out? >> you could tell his demeanor changed. i mean, his face lit up. he was very excited. >> what's your heart
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doing at that point? >> it's beating very well. [ laughs ] >> what had been sitting in the attic all this time? >> i'd never seen one before, and i don't expect to see one again. >> that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. which war saw the most combat veterans go on to become u.s. president? is it the revolutionary war, the mexican-american war, the civil war, or world war ii? the answer when we return. say carl, we have a question about your brokerage fees. fees? what did you have in mind? i don't know. $4.95 per trade? uhhh and i was wondering if your brokerage offers some sort of guarantee? guarantee? where we can get our fees and commissions back if we're not happy. so can you offer me what schwab is offering? what's with all the questions? ask your broker if they're offering $4.95 online equity trades and a satisfaction guarantee. if you don't like their answer, ask again at schwab.
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>> so, which war saw the most combat veterans go on to become u.s. president? it's "c," the civil war. five future presidents -- grant, hayes, garfield, harrison, and mckinley saw combat during the civil war. >> in birmingham, alabama, in may 2013, patrick martin visits a traveling appraisal fair, hoping some of his family's old military artifacts can pay off his growing debts. it's not going well -- that is until he pulls out an old map of texas for heritage auctions' appraiser joe fay. >> i had seen this map before, but i had only seen reprints of it. >> joe instantly recognizes the print as apparently the work of jacob de cordova, who commissioned the first maps in 1849, right after the u.s. won the mexican-american war.
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de cordova used the map as a promotional tool to lure adventurous immigrants to the state. >> he was a land agent who helped settle people in texas, and he wanted a document that showed them the vastness of the land that was available for them to settle. >> de cordova obtained official signature endorsements from famous texans, including sam houston, to further his cause. >> sam houston, on the floor of the u.s. senate, referred to this as the most accurate depiction of texas that anyone had ever compiled. >> with patrick's copy, joe is excited but skeptical. he knows such a famous map has countless reprints and forgeries. >> i noticed that the paper was right, consistent with the period, but still it could be a reprint. >> fortunately for joe, de cordova himself left a vital clue. >> there's a printed notice that basically says, "without my signature, this map is fraudulently obtained."
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>> patrick's map includes a signature that appears to match de cordova's, but is it hand-signed or printed? another clue. >> i could see the ink bleeding through to the back of the map, which only happens if it's authentically signed with ink. once i saw this, really, nothing else mattered that weekend. >> the map is no doubt the find of the appraisal fair. >> he said, "we had this auction last year, and the second edition sold for $44,000." >> a first edition from 1849 would be worth even more. only a few are known to still exist. joe suspects that patrick's map could be a first edition. geography will tell the tale. >> there are several features of this map that wouldn't be recognizable to somebody looking at the state of texas today. >> you see, the republic of texas once stretched as far north as wyoming and as far west as santa fe. over the years, those boundaries
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are chipped away. the biggest land transfer comes in 1850, when texas gives up vast tracts of western land to the federal government in exchange for debt relief. come to think of it, that's the same outcome patrick's aiming for. the end result -- the texas shape we know today. so, what version of texas did patrick's map show? >> just north of the state line of texas is an area that's referred to on the map as "indian territory," which we know today as oklahoma. there's a strip on the left side of the map that's santa fe territory. so at that point, that was that eureka moment of, "this is actually an 1849 de cordova map." >> joe ups his initial appraisal. >> he said, "yours is a first edition. therefore, we think it would be $60,000 to $80,000." so i called my sister and decided to sell the map. >> joe tells patrick
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the value could go up or down depending on the map's condition and previous sales. he wants to hold on to the heirloom for more research. joe gets on a plane to dallas to show the map to sandra palomino, who specializes in texana artifacts. all she needs is one look. what kind of condition was the map in when you got it? that's next on "strange inheritance." >> here's another quiz question. what role did future army general and u.s. president ulysses s. grant play in the mexican-american war? was it quartermaster, sniper, or medic? the answer when we return. (phone ping) gentlemen, i have just received word! the louisiana purchase, is complete!
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>> so, what role did future army general and u.s. president
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ulysses s. grant play in the mexican-american war? the answer is "a," quartermaster. grant was in charge of distributing supplies and provisions to the 4th infantry regiment. >> in birmingham, alabama, patrick martin is eagerly awaiting the latest appraisal of his strange inheritance -- an 1849 first-edition map of the new state of texas. joe fay has pegged its value at $80,000. if he's right, that would go a long way to wiping out the debt patrick has run up since retiring after quintuple bypass surgery. >> although the map meant a lot to me, when you put a dollar value on it that can change your financial base, you're thinking, "i can get rid of this debt," but you don't want to buy into it yet. >> after all, patrick knows his map hasn't exactly been treated like a museum exhibit, and it's condition can have a major impact on its sale price.
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that's why joe fay brings the map to dallas to get a second opinion from sandra palomino. it's why dallas is my next stop, as well. what kind of condition was the map in when you got it? >> it was in wonderful condition. it was just amazing to us that there were no separations along any of the folds. condition is everything, and value is just rising with literally every fold that we're opening. >> did you know, as an expert in maps and documents and other historical artifacts, that it existed? >> this particular map is newly discovered because it was on nobody's radar. >> now big is the market for maps? >> for collectors in general, they love that period from 1834, 1835, up through the late 1850s. >> that's because so many families trace their texan roots back to the immigration boom of that period. >> texans are very, very prideful of their roots,
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and they see it almost as a responsibility to preserve the history and pass it on. >> and many of those early texans were influenced by de cordova and his map. >> it's a treasured piece of history, and that's what this map is to texana collectors. >> a few days after the original appraisal, patrick receives a call from heritage auctions. >> joe fay calls, and joe says, "i missed the estimate on the map." >> oh. >> so, i think he's overpriced it. >> instead, fay says it could be more than $80,000 -- a lot more, six figures easy. >> so, you know, right away, i'm ecstatic. >> on march 15, 2014, patrick martin's first-edition map of texas goes up on the auction block in dallas. patrick monitors the auction by computer from his home in birmingham. things are not off
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to a smooth start. >> the auction actually was going slow generally. things weren't reaching their auction estimate, so as my map came up, i was trepidatious. >> the map opens at $75,000, and it appears only two bidders will be competing for it. the amount slowly creeps higher from 75 to 85 grand, then to $97,000. patrick knows he should be ecstatic, but you know how it goes. when you're told six figures, it's six figures you want. >> this time, it stopped long enough that the auctioneer said, "fair warning," and so i thought, "it's gonna go at $97,000." >> is he right? that's next on "strange inheritance." where's frank? it's league night! 'saved money on motorcycle insurance with geico! goin' up the country. bowl without me. frank.'
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>> now back to "strange inheritance." >> after being passed down through five generations of patrick martin's family, a rare first-edition map
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from the early days of texas statehood goes on the auction block in dallas in march 2014. the bidders push the price up from $75,000 to $85,000. it's a lot of money, but patrick has been led to believe this strange inheritance would fetch a lot more than that. the bidding jumps to $97,000, then stalls again. >> i had a little momentary roller coaster there of letdown, euphoric, letdown. >> then, after what seems to be ages, the bidding picks up again. soon, it passes the $100,000 mark and keeps on climbing. the final sale price, including a premium the buyer pays to the auctioneer -- a whopping $149,000. after paying seller fees, patrick and his sister take home $96,000 -- 48 grand each. they can finally get rid of all their debt -- every penny of it.
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>> immediately, within a day, we had paid off the home-equity loan and the credit-card loans, so it was great. >> it's admirable that you paid off debt with the money you got from the map, much more money than you expected, but come on, patrick. you must've bought a little splurge here or there for you or your sister, peggy. >> well, actually, we both still have a chunk that's waiting to splurge. we're trying to figure out what the splurge will be. >> a map somehow ends up in the hands of a distant ancestor, makes it way from basement to attic to moving van and back, escapes the ravages of a kid's imagination and dinner-party show-and-tell. the martin family treasure survived an improbable course no cartographer could map out. any regret? >> none. i have no problem with selling the map, even though i did enjoy it and i loved sharing it.
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but in a way, you're sharing it again. >> and what about all those other precious family heirlooms? could there be more treasure from the attic? >> well, hopefully. i could only dream that it would be as good as the map. >> the man who commissioned the texas map that patrick inherited, jacob de cordova, was one of the most enthusiastic and colorful promoters of texas, and he put his money where his mouth was. he himself bought up a million acres of land to sell to settlers. during the civil war, in fact, many texans lost everything and were unable to pay off their liens. although de cordova stood to lose a fortune, he refused to foreclose, saying, after all, he was the one who encouraged them to move to texas in the first place. i'm jamie colby for "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you.
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do you have a "strange inheritance" story you'd like to share with us? we'd love to hear it. send me an e-mail or go to our website, strangeinheritance.com >> 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 ]
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[ 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
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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.
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>> 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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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, big thinking in the finger lakes is pushing the new new york forward. we're the number one dairy and apple producers
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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.
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>> 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,
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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>> 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. ♪
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>> 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?
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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.
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>> 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
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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
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their own jeans? i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> i am hoop. >> i'm baird jones. >> two eccentrics from new york's disco days. >> if you were on baird's list, your social life was assured. >> two oddball art collections. >> all right. >> mel brooks, david bowie, art carney, muhammad ali. >> but the weirdest thing about this story... >> and it's really solid. nothing's going to fall off. >> ...is how the square from the burbs ends up with both. >> i can only imagine this driving around the streets of new york. >> will this two-for-one strange inheritance -- >> i've got $150, can get a $175? once, twice. first piece sold. >> ...ultimately add up? [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ]

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