Mid-20th-Century Denim Levi’s Advertising Banner

Value (2006) | $1,800 Retail$2,000 Retail

GUEST:
It came from my grandfather's general merchandise store in Camp Verde, Arizona, which he owned probably from the late 1800s or early 1900s until his death in 1966.

APPRAISER:
Any idea when he acquired this?

GUEST:
I'm not positive, but I think around the 1950s.

APPRAISER:
Well, it says "Since 1850," and you might assume it's an anniversary piece.

GUEST:
That's what I was thinking.

APPRAISER:
It could have been 100-year advertisement, yeah. How come you kept it? There must have been a lot of things in the store. Why'd you pick this out?

GUEST:
Well, my mother gave me this, and we had a, what we called a wine cellar, which was underground. We just hung it up in there for decoration. Levi Strauss were famous because of the rivets they used.

APPRAISER:
That's right. And it was back in the days of the Gold Rush. Denim used to be worn by sailors. But they would wear it loose, sewn together. It was... Levi Strauss had the genius to rivet it together so it would last. But this sign actually represents the second wave of genius of Levi Strauss, the company. Because starting in the early 1950s, they decided to start selling and find a new audience for their jeans aside from just, you know, cowboys and, uh, workmen. And to sell the romance of jeans to the general public, to wear jeans actually out in the street, you know... when you weren't working in the garage or something like that. And of course, they were the primary brand for decades until other people moved into the field. This is a fantastic piece of advertising. The cowboy out in the field. And, of course, they show their famous red tag from that period which helps to date the whole thing. But what's interesting to me is that this is a very large sign, it runs nine and a half feet. It's silk-screened onto the denim. Now, the silkscreen process lends itself to high quality, but very limited numbers. And on denim, you're only going to be able to get a couple of hundred impressions before the screen breaks down.

GUEST:
So they probably didn't make many?

APPRAISER:
They only made a very small number. Now, the size is interesting in that it makes it very difficult to sell as a collectible. But there is a market for this. And the market is the large number of stores in this country that now sell vintage denim. They love to decorate with original old Levi advertising, which is not that easy to find from prior to 1960, as this sign is. So taking all those things in consideration, the retail value of this sign would be between $1,800 and $2,000.

GUEST:
That's... that's a good value, yeah.

APPRAISER:
It's a good value for a sign that survived by accident.

GUEST:
Right, yeah.

APPRAISER:
So thanks for saving it for us.

GUEST:
You're welcome.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Heritage Auctions
Los Angeles, California
Appraised value (2006)
$1,800 Retail$2,000 Retail
Event
Tucson, AZ (June 17, 2006)
Period
1950s

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