Jacob W. Davis (Youphes)
( , 1823, Russian Empire
) was born to a Jewish
family in Riga
and came to Reno, Nevada
in June 1868. A tailor
, Davis used small copper
rivets to reinforce and strengthen items including harnesses
. 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
At the time, Davis made tents and wagon covers with cotton duck cloth
, an off-white canvas
-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
, sold well. Worried that others were pirating his product, he asked Levi Strauss
to support him in a patent
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.