Jacob Davis
Jacob W. Davis ( , 1823, Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

) was born to a Jewish family in Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

, in 1831 and came to Reno, Nevada
Reno, Nevada
Reno is the county seat of Washoe County, Nevada, United States. The city has a population of about 220,500 and is the most populous Nevada city outside of the Las Vegas metropolitan area...

 in June 1868. A tailor
A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men's clothing.Although the term dates to the thirteenth century, tailor took on its modern sense in the late eighteenth century, and now refers to makers of men's and women's suits, coats, trousers,...

, Davis used small copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 rivets to reinforce and strengthen items including harness
A harness is a looped restraint or support. It can also be referred to as an "hitcharness", especially by the Jordanian Armed Forces. Specifically, it may refer to one of the following harness types:* Bondage harness* Child harness* Climbing harness...

es. In 1871, a woman approached Davis to make pants for her husband, who was quite large. Davis decided to use the copper rivets to reinforce stress points in the pants
Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...


At the time, Davis made tents and wagon covers with cotton duck cloth
Cotton duck
Cotton duck , also simply duck, sometimes duck cloth or duck canvas, commonly called "canvas" outside the textile industry, is a heavy, plain woven cotton fabric...

, an off-white canvas
Canvas is an extremely heavy-duty plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame...

-type material he bought from Levi Strauss & Co a San Francisco merchant. Davis' copper-riveted pants and overalls, made of duck cloth, and later also denim
Denim is a rugged cotton twill textile, in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This produces the familiar diagonal ribbing identifiable on the reverse of the fabric, which distinguishes denim from cotton duck. Denim has been in American usage since the late 18th century...

, sold well. Worried that others were pirating his product, he asked Levi Strauss
Levi Strauss
Levi Strauss was a German-Jewish immigrant to the United States who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans. His firm, Levi Strauss & Co., began in 1853 in San Francisco, California.-Origins:...

 to support him in a patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

application. He offered to share the patent rights with the San Francisco company.

Levi Strauss agreed, and the patent was granted on May 20, 1873.

Davis not only partnered with the company, he moved his family to San Francisco shortly before the patent was granted, and became production manager for a line of Levi's copper-riveted clothing. Davis sold his interest to Levi Strauss & Co. around 1907, but continued as manager until his death in 1908.

See also

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