Jacob Davis: Pioneer Jewish Tailor of Reno Nevada & His Copper Rivets That Made History

Jacob (Youphes) Davis

Jacob Davis, the Jewish tailor that invented the Levi Bluejeans, WS 7032

Jacob Davis, the Jewish tailor that invented the Levi Bluejeans,
WS 7032

Values Codes  I-E-L-P


Jacob Youphes was born in Riga, Latvia in 1834.

While growing up in Latvia, Jacob Youphes was trained to be a tailor.

Jacob Youphes arrived in New York, in 1854, and changed his name to Jacob Davis.


Along the way . . . .

During the next few years Jacob Davis moved between San Francisco, Maine and Canada, and then back to San Francisco.

In 1868, Jacob Davis and his family moved to Virginia City, Nevada.


Reno, Nevada

That same year Jacob Davis and his family settled in Reno, Nevada where Jacob Davis invested in a brewery – and almost loses everything.

The following year, 1869, Jacob Davis opened a tailoring business, specializing in tents, wagon covers and horse blanket for the crews building the railroad.

His basic fabrics were heavy duty cotton “duck” and “denim,” which he purchased from Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco.

A year later Jacob Davis expanded his business to make work overall clothing for railroad workers, miners and farmers.

One customer suggested that he use the same copper rivets on the pants’ pockets that he was using to strengthen his other products.

The idea caught on with other local tailors.

Jacob Davis moved to protect his “invention.”

Jacob Davis contacted Levi Strauss and suggested that they apply for a patent on the rivets and cloth combinations.

The original patent was turned down as being too broad, but finally a patent was granted, #139121 for the work clothes.

Jacob David and Levi Strauss were partners on the patent.

In 1973, Levi Strauss invited Jacob Davis to move to San Francisco where they would set up, first a workshop, then a every expanding factory to make the new line of workpants that we know today as the famous Levi 501 brand.

Jacob Davis also designed the double row stitching on the back pockets in 1873, which is still trademarked.

Levi Strauss Copper Riveted Clothing Adv., #WS1894

Levi Strauss Copper Riveted Clothing Adv.,

In 1885, Levi’s cost $1.25/pair


Jacob Davis worked with Levi Strauss & Co. the rest of his life.



Jacob Davis married Annie Parksher while in Canada.

Together they had 6 children.

One son, Simon Davis became head of the Levi’s Manufacturing Co. after the death of his father.


Jacob (Youphes) Davis passed away in 1908.


More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Strauss, Levi; Levi Strauss: The Man Behind the Myth; San Francisco; Stern, Norton B. & Kramer, William M.; 19/3
  • Levi Strauss: The Man, His Family, and My Family; John Michael, M.D.; 45/4