1873 | Reno, NV

Patent Pending

“Please don’t show the pants to anybody.”


I send you by express two pieces, one blue and one made of the ten ounce duck cloth which I have bought a greate many peces of you. The secratt of them pants is the rivits that I put in those pockots and I found the demand so large that I cannot make them fast enough.

I charge for the duck $3 and the blue $2.50 a pear. My nabors are getting yealouse of these success and unless I secure it by patent papers it will soon become to be a general thing, everybody will make them up and thare will be no money in it.

Therefore gentlemen I wish to make you a proposition that you should take out the letters patent in my name as I am the inventor of it, the expense of it will be about $68, all complit, and for these $68 I will give you half the right to sell all such clothing revited according to the patent, for all the Pacific states and teroterious the balince of the United States and half of the Pacific Coast I resarve for myself. The investment for you is but a trifle compaired with the improvement in all coarse clothing.

I use it in all blankit clothing such as coats, vests, and pants, you will find it a very salable article at a much advenst rate. Should you decline to spent the amount required for the patent papers please wright to me and I will take them out at my own expense, under all cercomestance please don’t showe the pants to anybody.

I remain yours truely,

About This Text

Jacob W. Davis, a letter to Levi Strauss & Co. Born Jacob Youphes in Riga, Latvia, in 1831, Davis was working as a tailor in Reno, Nevada, when his patent was approved for the use of rivets to strengthen pockets and other stress points on men’s work pants. In 1873 he approached his San Francisco–based fabric supplier, Levi Strauss, with his proposition of a business partnership; around 1907 Davis sold his stake to Strauss. The trousers were initially made from cotton duck or denim fabric. An 1886 advertisement for Levi’s “patent riveted” pants boasted, “It’s no use, they can’t be ripped.”