Jacob Davis's Tailor Shop (site)

In 2006, the Reno Historical Resources Commission placed a plaque in front of the former location of Jacob Davis's tailor shop and residence at what is now 211 N. Virginia Street. The plaque commemorated Jacob Davis’s important 1871 invention: copper-riveted jeans. Born in 1831 in the Russian port city of Riga, now the capital of Latvia, Jacob Youphes immigrated to the United States at the age of 23 and changed his name to Davis.

Jacob Davis worked as a journeyman tailor in New York, Maine, and northern California, panned for gold on the Fraser River in Canada, and sold tobacco and wholesale pork in Virginia City. In 1868, he settled in Reno where he helped Frederick Hertlein build his Reno Brewing Company brewery. After a year, Davis turned to making tents, horse blankets, and other outdoor supplies for surveyors and teamsters working for the Central Pacific Railroad. The material he used was nine-ounce blue denim and ten-ounce white duck twill that he purchased from a San Francisco wholesaler named Levi Strauss.

In late December 1870, the wife of a laborer asked Davis to make a sturdy pair of pants for her husband. Using the duck cloth, Davis added copper rivets to the seams for added strength. As word of the new creation spread, Davis was overwhelmed with orders for his sturdy pants. Realizing that he needed a business partner, he approached his supplier, Levi Strauss. On May 20, 1873, Jacob W. Davis and Levi Strauss & Company were issued patent #139121 for "Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings." That same year, Davis added an orange-threaded double arc design to the rear pockets of his pants to distinguish them from the work of competitors.

When the patent was granted, Davis sold the Reno property and moved his family to San Francisco, where he supervised the manufacture of his invention at the Levi Strauss factory. Until his death in 1908, Davis supervised up to 450 employees at Levi Strauss & Company, producing a variety of riveted denim clothing that became an industry standard. Davis' copper-riveted sensation was arguably the most enduring Nevada-based invention in the state's history.



Designing the Historical Marker
Interviewed in 2012, Cindy Ainsworth, a co-founder of the Historic Reno Preservation Society, describes how she and Mella Harmon arranged for a marker to be designed and installed to commemorate the former site of Jacob Davis's Tailor Shop.
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211 North Virginia Street, Reno, NV