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Slave badges (3)

Object Number: 
INV.4639a-c
Date: 
1860-1861
Medium: 
Copper alloy
Dimensions: 
Overall: 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. ( 3.8 x 3.8 cm )
Marks: 
stamped: tag a: "CHARLESTON/1860/SERVANT/2981" handwritten: tag a, below "servant": "James Porter" stamped: tag b: "CHARLESTON/1860/SERVANT/1491" stamped: tag c: "CHARLESTON/1265/SERVANT/1861"
Description: 
Three stamped sheet metal tags; diamond shape with cut corners and hole punched at top; each stamped with city, year, position, and identifying number.
Gallery Label: 
The city of Charleston, South Carolina instituted regulations in 1800 that required free blacks as well as slaves to register their names and occupations. The law stipulated that distinctive tags, known as slave tax badges (commonly called slave badges), were to be worn by slaves when their owners allowed them to be hired out or self-employed. Savannah, New Orleans, Mobile, and Norfolk all had slave badge laws, but Charleston is the only city for which badges exist.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Dr. Octavius White, 1865
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group