Deep within an abandoned mine, a pair of Stronghold Marine (Lace Back) Overalls, dating back to the late 19th century, has been discovered. This denim find, approximately 500 feet underground, offers a rare glimpse into the evolution of workwear during the industrial era.
Believed to be the earliest surviving lace back waist overall, the design draws parallels to US Navy-issued bottoms of the time. Found alongside artifacts dating from the mid-1890s to the mid-1900s, these overalls provide unique insights into early denim workwear.
Historical records reveal the first ad for “Men’s Stronghold Marine Overalls” in the Los Angeles Evening Record on September 8, 1899, priced at 65 cents. A 1901 Arizona newspaper refers to them as “Stronghold Lace Overalls,” solidifying their presence in the market.
Notably, a subtle change in the brand’s label, from “The Stronghold” to “Stronghold,” likely occurred in the mid-1900s between the brand’s founding in 1895 and David Newmark’s exit in 1911.
Examining the overalls reveals practical design elements, including four inset pockets, a flush waistline pocket, two waist buttons, and a five-button fly. Unwashed since their discovery, the overalls bear witness to a miner’s life, with white wax stains and embedded dirt from the mines.
Acquired by a historian, collector, and author, the overalls now form part of a personal collection, emphasizing their historical value. Despite substantial offers, the decision to retain these artifacts underscores the owner’s commitment to preserving tangible links to the past.
In the realm of vintage workwear, Stronghold’s Lace Back Overalls transcend mere garments; they are historical artifacts connecting us to the rugged lives of miners and the craftsmanship of a bygone era.
Clothing items found in abandoned mines only happens maybe once a year if that at all. This is truly a once in a lifetime find and is something that belongs in a museum.