Stretching the Truth


March 2, 2015 Dick Sheaff

by Dick Sheaff

Exaggeration abounded in mid- to late-nineteenth century imagery, for comic effect and/or to emphasize product features. One oft-repeated graphic, in numerous variations, showed a pair of pants resisting mighty efforts to pull it apart. This may have originated with Levi Strauss, who used that visual to sell its new, tough canvas denim jeans, which the company created originally with California gold miners in mind.

Below are a few more . . . if any readers have others, I will be happy to add them to this post (send images/scans, of decent resolution, to


LeviStraussStretched150(Image courtesy of ESA Board member Glenn Mason)



CookPantaloons150 AnniversaryCard150


There were also other exaggeration images demonstrating the toughness of a pair of pants:




And there were images featuring other sorts of stretching:




Finally, having nothing to do with stretching (other than stretching the borders of corniness), here is another pants-related piece of printed ephemera, from the early 20th century . . .



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